What is a Will?
A will is a written document, signed by you (the testator) which sets out what happens to your assets (your estate) when you die.
The people in charge of your estate (executors) are responsible for obtaining a Grant of Probate and distributing your estate to your beneficiaries.
Why have a Will?
Over 40% of Australian adults are at risk because they do not have a current valid will in place. Having a will allows you to provide for the people you want to benefit from your estate, and reduces the potential for confusion and dispute.
You should review your will regularly, including for example if you marry or divorce, if your assets change significantly, or on the birth or death of loved ones.
When should you make a Will?
Death – one of the two “certainties” in life. You just don’t know when it will strike.
Having a will means you are prepared. It means your family and loved ones will not be left in the dark. Don’t put off having a will.
What type of Wills are there?
Wills range from the simple to the complex; just like some people’s lives/assets/family arrangements range from the simple to the complex.
What goes in a will can be simple or complex. We have clients with significant assets and simple wills, we have clients with modest assets and yet they need complicated will to properly deal with their affairs. For more information on “testamentary trust” wills, click here.
What if you get married or divorced?
Depending on your circumstances, your marriage can revoke/cancel all or part of your will. Your divorce can invalidate any gift to your ex-spouse and may remove their appointment as executor. If you are getting married or divorced, we can help.
What happens if you don’t make a Will?
Legislation provides a formula which sets out who is entitled to your assets. That distribution may not be what you want to happen.
Who should you appoint as executor?
That depends on your family and life circumstances. You can appoint your spouse, partner, children (over 18 years), family members or friends. You can even appoint professional executors if your circumstances are complicated or if your assets are significant.
Having a combination of executors or cascading appointments in case a nominated executor is unable to act can be useful. We can provide sensible advice and help with the decision making process.
Can your Will be contested?
You can leave your assets to anyone you please, but if you do not make “proper provision” for those close to you (such as your spouse, de facto or children), they could apply to the Court to contest your will. Click here for more information on family provision claims.