Online Wills killed the Will Kit like radio killed the video star

Now you can write your Australian Will online, with a lawyer appearing on video to prompt you through the process.

Image of Shanti Rubens, Lawyer

If you’re reading this while humming Video Killed The Radio Star, you’re in good company.

I’m going to tell you about the evolution of the most common legal document—the legal will, while you hum along.

Online Wills have killed the Will Kit and lawyers to boot (like video killed the Radio Star). Unless the lawyer has gone online and can service you at-scale and from afar.

Of all the things you can do online, who’d have thought making a Will would be one?

In these times of COVID, of course you want to write a Will, and safely, while keeping the lawyers afar.

And now you can. The technology is here.

Watch your lawyer appear on video, offering guidance at each step as you punch your last wishes into an online form. Thanks to the magic of AI, moments later a carefully crafted Will arrives in your inbox.

It confirms all your personal wishes—the gold watch gift to your son, the jewels to your daughter, the family inheritances sorted.

All you need to do now is print off the document and voila! You’ve got a binding legal Will ready to sign. Thanks 2021.

To borrow a line from the lyrics of the Buggles hit Video Killed The Radio Star the Will has been "re-written by machine and new technology". 

Below, I'll explain how it works in more detail. But first let's play a song to get you in the mood …


Online Will with a radio Video Star

Legal Zebra’s online will making system uses video to simulate the experience of talking to a lawyer as you explain what you want in your will.

You don’t need to see a lawyer in the flesh. Instead, you’ll be asked a series of questions (in an online will form) with a lawyer (that’s me!) helping you answer each question (most of them are simple Yes or No) and explaining your options.

Of course, writing a will is an emotional process so it’s good to have your hand held by the next best thing to an in-person solicitor, a solicitor on video, guiding you through the process. Each video is short and relates to the specific question at hand. 

You can even choose a song you want played at your funeral!

How smart is that? An online Will that writes itself!

Just like a lawyer, the Legal Zebra system is smart about the questions it asks you. For example, if you say you want to gift individual items (rather than simply dividing up your entire estate in shares), you’ll be asked what the items are and who you want to gift them to.  

Once you’ve completed all your answers, the system cleverly inserts all the right clauses in your will, putting in the names of your family members/inheritors, etc to create a unique custom will for your personal circumstances. 

Magic, it's like a Will that writes itself!

It’s free to make a draft Will online

How to write an Online Will with gifts to your loved ones

If you want to make your will the smart way, click here and start the process completely free. You’ll receive a free draft of your document, elegantly laid out in clear concise language you can easily understand, including the personal details you provided to customise the document to reflect your wishes.

You don’t need to pay anything to trial the process and once you’re happy with your draft document you can pay a small fee online (securely by credit card) to receive a final version of your legal will ready for signing. 

The online will is delivered to you securely via email

Legal Zebra’s online will is delivered to your inbox via email as a PDF document.

You can print the document out yourself (you don’t need any special paper) at the office or at home. If you don’t have a printer at home, you could visit an Officeworks and ask them to print the document for you. 

You can sign your Will and make it legal without a lawyer

Online Wills - How to sign a Will so its valid and binding

Thankfully, you also don’t need to visit a solicitor or Justice of the Peace (JP) to sign your Will

It is a commonly held misconception that a Will needs to be witnessed by a lawyer or JP. However, you may be surprised to learn that all you need to do to make a valid Legal Will, is sign the document in front of two witnesses who are both over 18 and are not listed as people who may benefit under your will. 

So, for example, you can have two friends or neighbours witness you sign your Will document. But, of course, you shouldn’t have your family members act as witnesses as they are likely to benefit as inheritors and it could affect the legal validity of the document.

The DIY Will has come so far…

As you can see, the process of making a Will has come a long way, thanks to video technology. I’m afraid to say just as video killed the radio star, the online will (with video guidance) is going to make other systems a remnant of history.

We can't rewind, we've gone too far!

How did people make Wills in the old days?

Back in the days of the Radio Star, making a Will wasn’t quite so easy.

For a long time, there were only two options. 

  1. First, you could visit a lawyer in the flesh and pay more than a pound and tuppence for the pleasure. Of course, you had to make a contribution towards their offices, secretarial staff, typewriters (or if you were lucky a computer) and the Nescafe (as it was then).
  2. The other option was to take a stroll to the local post office or newsagent and pick up a will kit with a couple of sheets of parchment to write on. The traditional will kit is a hardcopy booklet with instructions on what to write in the parchment to give effect to your wishes. It usually has a fancy header at the top of the scroll/parchment, “Last will and Testament” in squiggly writing as a note to history and to give some pomp and ceremony to the process.

    Although, this was never a strict legal requirement, but rather an indicia of formality, like a bow tie or swab watch. In fact, you may still find these traditional legacy will kits in your post office or newsagent today, but they are becoming less popular as people have increasingly moved online.

    This led me to pen the article, The Australia Post Will Kit Is Dead!

Now, the third and preferred option is to write your will online using your iPhone, iPad, laptop or desktop computer. All you need is access to the Internet, a printer and 20 mins to watch a video and tell us what you want in your last will.

When to write a will (offline) with a lawyer

A Legal Will is the most common legal document—everyone needs one. However, everyone's circumstances are different and so too are their will making requirements. 

A note of caution: Despite the advances in technology and the many options including the DIY will kit and the more advanced online legal will systems, there is still a vital role for personalised, and in person, legal service from experienced estate planning lawyers. Particularly so for:

  • high-value estates where there is a lot of money at risk if the documents are not correct or properly signed.
  • cases involving complex tax issues, family trusts or business succession.
  • curly cases where there is likely to be contest to the will from, say, a disgruntled family member or former spouse. 

It’s also sometimes necessary to see a lawyer in person if there are questions about whether the willmaker (the testator or testatrix, as lawyers call them) has the mental competency or understanding to make a valid will.

This is a common problem for elder people who, for example, may suffer from dementia. Of course, with the willmaker in front of them, the solicitor is well-placed to assess their competency and it’s hard to do so online or where a family member generates a will for the elder person to sign.

Leaving aside these sorts of cases, the online do-it-yourself will system is a viable and cost-effective option for most Australians. It works well for common scenarios, such as where you own a home, bank accounts and your wishes are straightforward—to pass these, on your death, to your husband/wife (or if they die first) then to the kids, a simple will is all that is required. And, you can write your own will with the help of a do-it-yourself online will system.

Indeed, for these common scenarios, advanced technological systems designed by lawyers can ace the game and produce more accurate and reliable, up to date will documents than your average solicitor

Many Australians prefer to make their wills online

Increasingly, Australians are choosing to save time and money, by using technology to make their wills online.

Join the thousands of others who have made their wills online with Legal Zebra.

The whole process takes an average of 20 minutes

Get started with an Online Will completely free and secure your family‘s inheritance.

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