What is a Will and why is it so important?
A Will is a formal legal document through which you express your final wishes and determine the distribution of your property and any other assets when you pass away.
If you take the time now to make an effective legally binding Will you can save your family not only stress but money in what will undoubtedly be a difficult time for them.
Unfortunately, nearly half of all Australians do not have a Will, and for those who do have a Will, it may no longer be a true reflection of their wishes.
If you die without a Will, the law decides who gets your assets. This is called ‘dying intestate’. The major shortcoming of dying intestate is that your assets will not be distributed in accordance with your wishes. Often disputes arise when a person dies without a Will and these disputes inevitably put family members against each other.
How do I make a will?
There is no one answer about how to do your Will. It all depends on your assets, your circumstances and who your beneficiaries will be.
You need to make a Will that makes your wishes clear, that avoids confusion and conflict amongst your loved ones, and that is legally valid and binding. Doing this will protect your family and friends from costly and stressful legal disputes.
Things you need to consider
Who will be your Executors?
Your Executors have the legal and administrative task of sorting out your assets and debts after you die and making sure that your wishes as outlined in the Will are upheld.
Who will be your beneficiaries?
You can designate anyone as a beneficiary and distribute your assets in any way you like, however if you do not provide for your family and dependents, your Will can be contested and your hard-earned assets used on litigation fees.
Who will be the guardian of any minors?
It is important to consider guardianship where the beneficiaries are minors, that is, who will be responsible for looking after and raising your children. Guardians are usually family members.
How do you know a Will is valid?
To be valid, the person making the Will must be mentally competent, the Will must be correctly signed and witnessed by two witnesses, and show no evidence of tampering. The witnesses to the Will should not be beneficiaries, or related to beneficiaries, and must be over 18.
How often should I review my Will?
You should review your Will after any major events, such as marriage, divorce, property purchase or sale, death of a beneficiary or if your assets change significantly. We also recommend that you take a look at your Will every couple of years just to make sure that it is still the best instrument for you and for your family.
We can help
We know the potential pitfalls, and will ask you all the right questions to make sure that you have considered every possibility. We can design your Will in such a way to help protect your family from expensive estate litigation after your death.