45% of Australians don’t have a will, or if they do it isn’t current.
A will is a legally-binding document that sets out how you’d like your assets to be distributed upon your death. If you have dependents a will allows you to nominate who their guardian should be. You can ensure your beloved pet is re-homed with a loving and caring person.
In a will you also nominate the person who will be responsible for administering your estate and carrying out your wishes – the executor.
If you don’t have a will you don’t leave a clear way for your loved ones to deal with your assets.
The thought of writing a will may be distasteful or depressing to you. Sure, most people don’t enjoy contemplating their death, or maybe you just don’t like dealing with boring administrative jobs. In not attending to this task however, you are creating a messy, potentially divisive nightmare, for others to manage.
Those ‘others’ will be the people you love and those you don’t love so much – lawyers!
Why do I need a will?
Your will is the expression of your wishes after you’ve gone. The clearer your instructions the easier it is for the people left behind. What do you want done with a lifetime of accumulated assets? Home? Cash? Car? Are you planning on leaving your cricket-crazy nephew your priceless Don Bradman cricket cards but haven’t told anybody?
A correctly written and current will ensures:
- The right people are provided for after you pass away
- you choose the guardian of your children and/or pet’s
- no room for arguments amongst the beneficiaries (or not) of your will
- someone (your executor) understands exactly your wishes for how to manage your estate
- your estate can be quickly and smoothly settled.
How do I write a valid will?
You can download a Will Kit for free from the internet – check your State’s relevant authority – or you can buy a kit from the Post office. Follow the instructions and do it yourself, or make an appointment with a solicitor if you have a more complicated plan for the distribution of your assets.
Once you have completed your will make a copy and let family and confidantes know where to find it. .
What happens if I don’t have a will?
Without a will your assets will be distributed as determined by the Administration and Probate Act,1958 (Vic) – check your state’s legislation.
Your prized butterfly collection may go to that relation you don’t like rather than to your best friend or the Natural History Museum.
Consider talking to your family now and find out if they have interest in any particular assets of yours. Let your loved ones know how and why you’re distributing your assets in a particular way. This allows any disappointments to be dealt with now rather than later through a costly legal exercise that may not even yield their desired result.
Of course you don’t have to do that – it depends on your personal style and preferences. Use your judgment.
You’ll feel good when it’s done!
A will is the only way to make sure your wishes and intentions are carried out after you’ve gone. Your family and friends will be suffering through the grieving process – don’t make things more difficult for them.
Remember to update your will if circumstances change – you may experience divorce, have children, or acquire new assets.