Who can witness a will and what does it cost in Victoria?

lawyer witnessing a will

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Blog, Will

It’s estimated that nearly half of all Australians pass away without drawing up a will, making the already devastating situation of losing a loved one all that much harder for those who are left behind.

Without a will, there’s the possibility for family disputes over the deceased’s possessions and the opportunity for money and other precious possessions to be lost, if potential beneficiaries aren’t aware of their whereabouts. 

That’s why creating a will is something you need to think about, even if you’re currently fit and healthy. Unfortunately, people often aren’t sure how the process works, particularly when it comes to details such as getting the correct witnesses, or knowing how much they should be paying. Here, we demystify the will creation process for you, so you know what to expect.


Who can witness a will in Victoria?

Given you’re reading about drafting a will, you’ll have probably come across the term ‘Testator’. This refers to the person who’s creating the will, and is an important piece of legal jargon to understand.

The reason why the law demands the presence of witnesses is so there’s no uncertainty about the identity of the testator. In other words, this process is designed to stop someone pretending to be you and writing a will that isn’t what you would have wanted.

In the state of Victoria, you must have at least two witnesses to your will being created. Of these, at least one needs to be a lawyer or a justice of the peace – this is important because such people are independent and impartial. 

On top of this, there are two other important criteria you need to meet when it comes to your witnesses. Firstly, they need to be able to see you sign the document – however, they don’t need to be physically present in the room, so you can do this over an audio-visual link. In addition, everyone (i.e. both you and your witnesses) need to sign the will on the same day, and the witnesses must include a statement that all necessary requirements have been met. 

If you’re all in the same room when the signing takes place, you should all use the same pen for signatures, and everyone should sign at the bottom of each page.


How much does it cost to make a will in Victoria?

Practically speaking, there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own will, which will reduce costs. However, this is generally advised against, as such documents are often not legally binding due to the stringent legal requirements that need to be met. 

This is why most people rely on a professional law firm to help them draw up their will. The costs will depend to a large extent on how complex your estate is. A straightforward will and testament involving a solicitor usually costs in the range of a few hundred dollars to one thousand dollars. However, in instances where more complex arrangements need to be made (for example, setting up trusts or instating a power of attorney), the costs will likely be a few thousand dollars. The best advice is to get in touch with a well reputed law firm and ask for an estimate of the costs based on a brief description of what your will is likely to involve
At Testart Family Lawyers, we know that creating a will is a sensitive and sometimes complex process that requires diligence, trust and open communication. To find out how our local team can help you and your family, get in touch with us today.