The NSW Trustee and Guardian estimates that at least 45% of individuals have not yet made a valid will, and it has been claimed that 60% of Australians die without a will.
What is a will and why is it important?
A will is a legal document that clearly states how you want your assets distributed after your death. If you pass away without a will in place, you don’t have any control over how your estate is distributed. Therefore, if you die without a will your estate will be distributed to your relatives according to the legal rules that apply, which differ state to state. While the Intestacy Rules remain relatively similar in the different states and territories, it is important to refer to the relevant legislation for your state.
Who should make a will?
Generally, everyone over the age of 18 should create a will, irrespective of their financial status. This is more important for blended families (where one or both partners have a child or children from a previous relationship) because there is usually competing interests between past and present partners, biological children and step children. An example of an issue arising for a blended family without a will is if a parent dies, the child will have to wait until their step-parents also dies before inheriting, or the step-parent may change their will, and the deceased’s biological child may end up inheriting very little.
How do I make a will?
A will has to be witnessed and signed correctly for it to be legally valid and the instructions must be clearly expressed. You can do a ‘do-it-yourself’ will, however it is a safer option to have a professional do it for you. A professional will also be able to advise you on any tax and succession issues that you may need to consider when making your will.
What should a will include?
A will should state that it revokes all previous wills that you have created, appoint your executor’s, provide for payment of your funeral expenses and any debts, and state how you want your assets distributed.
Dying without a will in place can have unintended consequences, such as someone you didn’t intend on benefiting from your estate. The best solution for this is a valid will, we work closely with law firms to assist you in finding the best estate planning option.