One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Wills is that “I don’t need one”. This is simple untrue for the vast majority of people.
It’s essential to have a high quality legally binding Will to avoid bitter arguments, disputes, confusion and heartache at a time when loved ones are trying to cope with the loss of someone close to them.
Who exactly needs a Will?
The short answer is that if you have children, assets or keepsakes you wish to be cared for or distributed after your death, you need a Will. These may include significant financial assets such as property, shares or savings but it can also include superannuation and associated life insurance and keepsakes that may only have sentimental value.
Those most in need of an up-to-date Will include those who are:
- A business owner
- Travelling overseas, or interstate regularly or for a long period of time
- Undergoing a serious medical operation
- Likely to be incapacitated, out of action or out of contact for a significant period of time
- Frail or have chronic illness.
However you should also prioritise having a Will if you:
- Have children or are planning a family
- Are getting married or divorced
- Have a long-term partner or that long-term relationship has ended
- Live with or about to move in with a partner
- Are buying or have property, a business or other assets
- Have a complex family situation.
- Have superannuation, particularly if it includes a life insurance component, as this may require a specific Binding Death Benefit Nomination to ensure your nominated beneficiary receives the benefits you intended.
The benefits of having a Will
- Securing your wishes
A Will is essential if you want to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
- Peace of mind and the avoidance of disputes
You give yourself peace of mind knowing that you have put your affairs in order. Making a Will can help spare your family and friends needless heartache and problems.
- Specific Bequests
You can specify exactly where you want your money and possessions to go. You can make special provisions for your immediate family, other relatives, friends and charities. You may want to give away items of sentimental value as well as those of monetary value. Only by making a Will with specific provisions can you be certain that a special item goes to the person whom you want to receive it.
- Legal Guardian for children
If you have children under 18 it is important to make provision for them in the event of your death. This is particularly important in the case of one-parent families or unmarried parents living together.
There are financial advantages of having a Will. In certain circumstances, you can use a Will to minimise the amount of tax payable and your family will be spared unexpected legal bills.
What if I don’t make a Will?
If you die without leaving a Will you are said to die intestate and the Law decides how your money and possessions should be divided. Although your next of kin will receive some of your estate, the situation is more complicated and problematic than people realise. Your assets may end up in the wrong hands. For example:
- If you are married you may think your husband or wife will automatically get everything. In fact, this is only the case if your estate is under a certain value. Your children may have a right to part of your estate or, if you have no children then your parents, brothers and sisters who survive you may take a share.
- If you are living as a couple, but are not married, you may be treated as a single person and a surviving partner may get nothing.
- If you are a single person, you may want your estate divided in the proportions you wish among friends, relatives and charities of your choice. Even if you have no immediate family, it is still important to make a Will.
Without a Will, in certain circumstances your estate may simply pass to the Government and you will have had no say in where your money or possessions will go.
When should I make a Will?
If you don’t already have a Will the best time to do it is NOW. It also makes sense to review your Will every few years, as your circumstances may have changed and an updated Will makes sure your wishes are absolutely clear.
Can I make my own Will?
Not every Will is equal. It is a good idea to enlist the help of a professionally qualified expert. It’s very easy to make a mistake with a homemade Will, as there are certain strict legal formalities that must be complied with. A Will is an important document and it is worth taking a little trouble to get it right.
Every Will is unique and we have the expertise to help navigate any complexities that exist or could arise.