While a lot of us may not like to think about no longer being around, having a Will is the most dependable way you can communicate your final wishes, provide direction on how you would like your estate to be distributed and make provisions for your loved ones. It also reduces the likelihood of future complications or disputes when your estate is distributed.
If you pass away without a Will, a court-appointed administrator will be required to distribute your estate – possibly not in the way you would have liked. If no one is willing or able to act as your administrator, the Public Trustee will then be appointed to act. In either situation, the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ will be applied to determine how your estate will be distributed, which do not automatically guarantee that your loved ones will receive what you would like.
When Should You Make a Will?
Making a Will can seem like something to think about ‘later in life’, however it’s a good idea to consider from the age of 18, as while you may not yet own property or have children etc., you might still have personal items that are of significant emotional or financial value that can be considered in a Will.
Once you have a Will, it is wise to review it regularly and update it as your personal circumstances change, i.e.:
- Marriage, divorce or new relationships;
- The birth of children or grandchildren;
- The death of a beneficiary or executor; or
- A significant change to your financial situation or assets.
Why Get Legal Advice?
Preparing a Will can be complex, and there are many things to consider. While there are “Do It Yourself” kits available, these generic templates may not cover areas unique to your situation that require special attention, which may mean that your estate is not administered in the way you would like. It also may not be legally binding and create more issues than you could have ever foreseen.
By seeking legal advice when preparing a Will, the specialist will be able to ask all the right questions and ensure that your Will includes all of the stipulations and necessary information to clearly communicate your final wishes.
Some of this might include informing you about or helping you make decisions regarding:
- Superannuation and life insurance: these are not automatically included in your estate and may need to be addressed outside of your Will to achieve your goals.
- Guardianship of children: who will care for your children when you die?
- Payment of outstanding mortgages and loans: Should these go with the asset/s, or do you want them to pass to the intended recipient debt-free?
- The type of shared ownership that applies to your property: Whether you own your property as a joint tenant or tenant in common will affect what happens to the property when you die.
- Control of the family company or family trust: depending on the content of the documents that established these entities it may not be who you think it is.
- Likelihood of your Will being contested: There are things that you may be able to do to reduce this impact.
- Funeral arrangements: Would you like to be buried or cremated?
Estate planning, including the writing of Wills, is far more complex than it first appears – even for people with relatively modest assets.
Shine Lawyers’ Wills and Estates Team are experts in preparing legal Wills. Our team are here to listen to your concerns, and provide you with sensitive and expert legal advice. Contact us for a consultation today.
Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: June 20, 2018.