When it comes to Wills and Estate Planning many people make assumptions that can lead to unnecessary confusion and further heartache for loved ones.
These assumptions are usually based on simple myths. Here are the top 5 Wills and Estate Planning myths.
1. I don’t need a Will because everything will go automatically to my spouse or partner
Some people assume that they don’t need a Will because everything will automatically go to their spouse or long-term partner. This is not always the case.
If you die without leaving a Will you are said to die intestate, so there is no formal evidence of who you wanted as your beneficiaries and who you wanted as your Executor.
Your estate will then be distributed according to a pre-determined formula meaning your assets may end up in the ‘wrong hands’ or with someone you never expected.
Although your family is likely to receive some of your estate, the situation is more complicated and problematic than people realise.
2. I don’t have assets, so I don’t need a Will
When it comes to Wills one of the biggest misconceptions is that “I don’t need one” because I don’t have any assets. This is simply untrue for the vast majority of people.
Assets 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.
Simply put, if you have children, assets (as described above) or keepsakes you wish to be cared for or distributed after your death, you need a Will.
3. I can just write my own Will
Not every Will is equal.
It’s very easy to make a mistake with a homemade Will and potentially cost an Estate tens of thousands of dollars because the Will wasn’t drafted or executed properly.
Some of the most common problems or pitfalls for do-it-yourself Wills include:
- The Will is not properly executed or witnessed
- Inappropriate Executors appointed
- Estate not disposed of properly due to the drafting of the Will
- Assets not properly accounted for in the Will
- Residuary Estate isn’t effectively disposed of resulting in Legislation determining the distribution of the remaining Estate
- Uncertain Terms of Will resulting in expensive Court action to determine the meaning of the Will
- Gifts not properly described or inappropriate conditions applied to them
- Superannuation and Family Trusts (which are not part of the Estate) not dealt with effectively
- Failure to consider Tax – this requires detailed knowledge of Tax and Succession laws
- Claims against the Estate not considered and protected against.
4. I made a Will years ago so I’m fine
Having a Will is a great start but it’s equally important for it to be up-to-date.
Life and circumstances change over the years and so should your Will. There may be marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren and changes to your assets that need to be taken into account.
It’s a good idea to review your Will every five years or so. You can use your Driver’s Licence renewal date as a reminder to also review your will.
It may not need changing every time, but it’s a good idea to check just in case.
Updating your Will may only involve making a Codicil, which is simple for minor changes or additions. The best way to know for sure is to consult a qualified professional such as Gill and Lane Solicitors.
5. Making a Will is expensive
A Will is one of the most important legal documents that you will make in your lifetime and it is worth taking a little trouble to get it right.
That being said, it’s a simple process and doesn’t have to be as expensive as you expect.
While many people try to save a few hundred dollars by using a DIY Will Kit, it may cost them or their loved ones more in the long run.
Other people may choose to pay for a simple Will.
Unfortunately many Wills aren’t simple these days.
Let’s face it, whose family and personal circumstances are simple these days?
Dealing with blended families, people you’d like to exclude from a Will, managing different types of assets or if you’re a business owner, requires a more complex Will and certain expertise and knowledge.
Ask a qualified professional such as Gill and Lane for an estimate for preparing a Will that caters for your unique personal circumstances.
You should speak to a qualified Wills and Estate professional who can help you safeguard your future wishes.
Contact Gill & Lane Solicitors at Sandgate via GregL@gillandlane.com.au, or 3269 8111 for a free, no obligation consultation.