Nobody likes talking about their death, which is why so many people are reluctant to make a Will and continue to put it off. Many people also think they’re too young to need a Will, and presume they’ll have plenty of time to get their affairs sorted later.
In reality, you never know when your time will be up, and having a current Will in place can make life much easier for those you leave behind.
Why do you need a Will?
Writing a Will means you decide what happens when you die. If you pass away and don’t have a Will, those decisions are made by a governing body. It’s not just decisions about who gets your car and house; a Will includes who will have guardianship over your children, who controls your assets and what happens to your debts and taxes.
What should I include in a Will?
A Will should include information regarding:
- The beneficiaries of your assets. These are usually your spouse, children, extended family members and perhaps a charity.
- Who will look after and distribute your assets. A Will executor is responsible for making sure your wishes are met and money and assets are distributed correctly.
- Guardianship of your children if they are minors. When one parent dies, the remaining parent will normally have custody of the children, however if this is not possible, you need to elect a guardian.
You should also include a detailed property inventory, instructions for handling your digital legacy and who should care for your pets.
What isn’t covered in a Will?
A Will cannot control jointly owned assets. In this instance, ownership will automatically transfer to the remaining owner(s). This includes homes, home contents, bank
accounts and anything that is jointly owned.
Wills also do not cover life insurance, superannuation, discretionary trusts, unit trusts or companies,
How do I get a Will?
There are a few ways you can get a Will, by either writing one yourself, choosing an online service, buying a kit or having one prepared by your lawyer or financial advisor.
To make sure your Will is valid:
- You must be over 18 years old.
- You must state your wishes in writing. Verbally telling someone is not enough.
- You must have the document signed in the presence of two witnesses who are over 18 years old.
Can I change my Will?
Changes cannot be made directly to your Will, but you can make minor changes with a Codicil. This is a separate document and must be kept with your Will, as there will be no other evidence of any changes. Changes might include adding a beneficiary or including a gift.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t make more than 2 or 3 Codicils. If you do, it’s perhaps better to make a new Will and the old one will become invalid.
Decide where you’ll keep it and tell people
You don’t need a lawyer to keep your Will and you don’t need to register it. Keeping it with your other important documents in a safe place is fine. Just make sure you tell people where it is!
The perfect time to make a Will is NOW. Don’t put it off because you think you’re too young or don’t have enough valuable assets. If you’d like some advice for writing your Will, please call us on 02 9241 2575.