While the thought of death can be frightening, making a will doesn’t have to be!
Your will is probably the most important legal document that you will ever sign. This one document ensures that your assets and the people and things you love are taken care of after you’re gone.
Your will also helps to relieve financial and emotional strain and provide guidance at a time when your family needs it the most.
No matter the circumstance, having a will makes sure all of your wishes are understood when you pass away, as well as outlining to your loved ones your funeral wishes. If you’re in the position where a will isn’t in place, the law determines how your assets are divided, who they go to and what happens to the people who are depending on you, so it’s very important to have one.
What if I don’t have a will?
To die without a will means that you die ‘intestate’. If this happens, your personal assets (‘estate’) will be distributed in accordance with the provisions on the Administration Act 1969. Many people mistakenly believe that this will result in all of their assets going to their spouse or partner. However, this is often not the case. For example:
- If you are survived by your spouse/partner and you have a child/children, then your spouse/partner will receive all of your personal chattels; $155,000; and 1/3 of what is left. Your children will be entitled to the remaining 2/3; and
- If you are survived by your spouse/partner and you have parents who survive you, then your spouse/partner will receive all of your personal chattels; $155,000; and 2/3 of what is left. Your parents will be entitled to the remaining 1/3.
What is a testamentary guardian?
If you have a child/children under 18 years of age, then you will likely want to appoint a testamentary guardian for them. A testamentary guardian does not have a right to custody nor will they necessarily be responsible for the day to day care of your child(ren). They will however, be responsible for making key decisions in respect of the child(ren)’s upbringing.
How often should I review my will?
We recommend that you review your will every two years or so. In particular, if you have entered into marriage; you have had children; your relationship has dissolved; you have purchased new property; or your wishes have changed, then it is important that you update your will.
If your circumstances and wishes have not changed, then there should be no need to alter your will but it is always good practice and in your best interests to review it regularly.