Most people have heard of a document called a “Will” or what’s sometimes called a “final Will and testament”. Many people know that they should have a Will or that they need to make one at some point in their life. However, what many people are unclear of is exactly what a Will is or how it works. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions to guide you through the Will-making process.
A Will is a legal document that states your wishes on how you would like your property distributed and who it Will be distributed to when you die. A Will also sets out your wishes about guardianship or care of your children if they are under 18 years old at the time of your death.
The short answer is, anyone over the age of 18 years should have a valid and up-to-date Will, regardless of the value of your assets or the structure of your family. Ultimately, someone Will be responsible for sorting out your estate after your passing, and having a Will should make their job easier – so even if you don’t do it for yourself, you’re doing it for those you leave behind.
Having a valid Will is the best way to ensure that your assets Will be taken care of and distributed as you intended. Otherwise, your estate Will be distributed according to the law in your State. For many of our clients, the applicable law is that of the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Creating a Will is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the significant role this document plays in carrying out your final wishes. If you would like to find out more about our wills services or obtain a quote, feel free to visit our Quote for Services page or contact us on 02 9687 8885.
If you die without a valid Will, there’s no formal record of how you intend to distribute your estate or to whom you wish to distribute it to. In such cases, you are said to have died intestate.
When this happens, your estate Will be distributed according to a pre-determined formula based on the law in your State. The risk here is that this formula may not be in line with your wishes and it also may not be in the best interest of the surviving members of your family.
There may also be other potential challenges, whether legal or otherwise for the surviving members of your family which can cause them unnecessary financial and emotional distress.
You might also be interested to know that if you die without a valid Will, in some circumstances, your estate Will pass to the State Government.
You can review or update your Will at any time but our recommendation but our recommendation is that you review your Will whenever there’s a significant life event. For example, you should review your Will whenever there is:
- Marriage or divorce
- Starting or ending a de-facto relationship
- The birth of children
- Your chosen executor is seriously ill or has died
- Your spouse or de-facto partner has died
- A beneficiary named in your Will has died
- Purchase and sale of assets that you wish to be listed in your Will
Remember, your last valid Will is going to be the document that your executor and the court will determine as your ‘last Will and Testament’, and so keeping your Will up to date at all times is extremely important to ensure that it reflects your situation and circumstances and therefore is up-to-date.
Even though it’s possible to buy a DIY Will kit and prepare your own Will (there are many available from such places like your local post office), you should be aware that a Will kit will likely be very general in nature, but it won’t be able to provide you with specific advice or guidance as to what’s appropriate to your personal circumstances. Also, in order for your Will to be valid, it must comply with the law and if you’re not familiar with the legal requirements and the Will kit doesn’t properly advise you, then there’s a risk that your Will won’t be valid and you wouldn’t even know.
A Will is an important legal document and the risk, consequence and cost of not doing it right far outweighs the cost of the professional advice and service around preparing it through a suitably qualified lawyer.