With each year comes new beginnings and the new financial year is no different. It is the perfect time to assess last year’s financial and personal progress and take the time to plan for the year ahead. So whilst you’re rustling up your paperwork to organise yourself for tax time, why not check over your other critical legal documents and take the time to review your Will to ensure that everything is in order.
How often should I review my Will?
It is recommended that as a minimum, your Will is reviewed annually. You should pick a regular time that suits you, such as the beginning of a new year, a new financial year or an important anniversary to help you remember.
Other times when you should review and update your Will include:
- A relationship milestone - a new long-term relationship, marriage, separation or divorce
- The birth of children or grandchildren;
- Substantial addition or sale of your assets;
- The death or bankruptcy of a beneficiary or executor; or
- A significant change to your financial situation or assets.
Do I really need a lawyer to draft my Will?
While there are ‘do it yourself’ kits available, these are generic templates that may not cover areas unique to you. If these are not completed correctly, it may mean that your Estate is not administered as you intended. Many people don’t know what “rest and residue” means and not including these things can result in the Rules of Intestacy coming into play. As a result, the DIY Will may not reflect your wishes, causing more issues and expenses for your loved ones than you could have ever foreseen.
By having a solicitor to draft or update your Will, all the right questions will be asked to ensure that your Will includes everything that is legally required. This process will also address assets that may not automatically be covered by your Will to ensure they are going exactly where you want them to.
There are a number of things to consider when drafting your Will – this includes, considering who you would like as the executor, what liabilities that you have, and how you would like your assets distributed. It is also worth considering who you would like to make financial, personal and health decisions in the event that you are unable to due to illness by nominating an Enduring Power of Attorney. Getting legal help when putting together your Will can ensure that you don’t miss anything.
Have you thought about these estate planning issues?
- Superannuation and life insurance are not automatically included in your estate and may need to be addressed outside of your Will, so they go to the right people.
- Who will care for your children when you die? By stating who you would like as guardians for your children, you can feel reassured that your wishes will be known.
- How will your mortgages and loans be dealt with – should they go with the asset they are attached to or do you want them to pass debt free?
- Do you own your property as a ‘joint tenant’ or ‘tenant in common’? What will be the effect of the category when you die? If you’re a ‘joint tenant’ your portion of the property will go to the other owner. If you’re a ‘tenant in common’ you will need to outline in your Will what you would like to happen with your portion of the property.
- Who will control the family company or family trust when you die? This information will be in documents forming these entities and should always be reviewed.
- Is there a way of reducing the prospect of your Will being contested? There are things that you may be able to do to reduce this impact.
- What are your preferred funeral arrangements? Burial or cremation? By including these answers in your Will, you can make your wishes known.
The cost of making a Will with a lawyer
Most people think that getting a Will done is an expensive and tedious process, however, this is not the case. In most cases, there will be a simple fixed fee to prepare a Will. If your matters are more complex, there may be additional charges, but these will be outlined before work takes place.
Even if you don’t believe you need a Will at all – it’s important not to underestimate your assets. For example, your superannuation is a valuable asset that must be factored into your Will. Remember, the younger you are, quite frequently the higher your superannuation death benefits are.
Review your Will today
Your Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever sign. For just $450 for a standard Will, Shine Lawyers’ Wills and Estates Team can prepare a legally valid Will that reflects your wishes and ensures that your loved ones are looked after. Contact us today for a consultation.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 30, 2020.