Writing a Will is one of the most important things you can do to secure your loved ones’ future.
Unfortunately, many people never do so because they don’t know what the purpose of writing one is, or how to go about doing so. In fact, it is estimated that more than half of all adult Australians have not prepared this vital legal document.
Whilst the reasons for postponing your Will may seem justifiable, such as fear of planning for the inevitable, taking care of it will bring you and your family true peace of mind.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that states how your assets and property will be distributed when you pass away. It also enables you to decide who will have guardianship of any children. A properly written Will can help to avoid family conflict over financial matters after your death, protecting your loved ones from court battles and the inconvenience of administering your estate after you die. In simple terms, a Will ensures that your assets and property are distributed as you want, to whom you want.
What happens if I die without a Will?
In legal terms, if you die without a Will, you are said to have died ‘interstate’. The intestacy laws of your state will determine how your estate assets will be distributed upon your death. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that your assets will be distributed in line with your exact wishes.
As Maurice Blackburn’s national head of Wills and Estates Law, Andrew Simpson, states: “It is understandable that people assume their family can step in to deal with their affairs if they pass away unexpectedly without a Will, but in most cases, that’s not what happens.”
The laws addressing this issue are varying and complex and as such, it’s important not to leave things up to chance.
Why should you write a Will?
There are many reasons why you need to write a Will. People often delay writing their Will because they feel that it is not something they really need to think about, but in fact, it is an irrevocable document that could impact the future of loved ones for many years.
Some of the reasons you should write a Will include:
- To ensure that your property will pass to the people you want, rather than who the courts decide should inherit it;
- To choose who will look after your children (and their assets) if you die;
- To allow you to leave some of your estates to charities if this is what you wish;
- To help avoid legal costs and family conflict after your death; and
- To provide peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones.
As Ipswich’s leading law firm, McNamara Law, states: ‘Having an effective estate plan in place, which might be as simple as having a will, will be the best way that you can make sure your assets end up where you want them to, with minimal expense and delay.’
How to get started with the process
The process of writing a Will may seem daunting, but in reality, it is a relatively straightforward process that just takes a little time to complete. In Australia, there are a few ways in which you can write a Will. These include:
- Using a lawyer
- Buying a DIY Will kit
- Writing it yourself
- Advising the Public Trustee
As all Wills can vary in effectiveness, it’s important to do your research to ensure that the document is legally binding. To make the process as simple as possible and leave nothing to chance, it is advisable to seek proper legal advice.
As you get older, important legal decisions such as choosing an enduring power of attorney and writing a Will should be addressed to bring you true peace of mind. By making sure your affairs are in order, you can take control of the future of the assets that you’ve spent your life building.
You can find more information on writing a Will here.