The importance of making a will

Everyone with assets over the age of 18 should consider making a Will. Making a Will is the positive process of creating a legal document which specifies who you would like to leave your assets to in the event of your death (your Estate).

Without a valid Will, your Estate is likely to be distributed in accordance with a government formula that specifies which relatives are entitled to what portion of your Estate which may not be consistent with your wishes. From experience, we have seen problems arise when loved ones left behind have to deal with an estate without a valid Will – there is often additional stress, complications and unexpected outcomes.

We recommend that advice be sought from a solicitor when making a Will or updating your Will to ensure that the right questions are asked.

Will preparation checklist

  1. List all of your assets and liabilities to ascertain your estimated net worth, allowing for any assets that may not go through your Will (such as assets jointly held, superannuation proceeds, life insurance).
  2. List everyone you wish to receive a gift from your Estate: family members, friends, charities. Consider the portions you would like to gift to each beneficiary and the age at which young persons can receive their share. You may need to take into account special needs of a particular beneficiary.
  3. Consider whether you have any personal items, such as jewellery, art, family heirloom you would like to gift to a particular person.
  4. If you decide to leave a bequest for any charities, you may wish to discuss your intentions with your family, to ensure that they understand your reasons for doing so.
  5. Nominate the executor(s) of your Estate and check that they are happy to take on the role. The executor should be somebody you trust but does not require experience. Often an executor will engage a solicitor to assist with applying for probate and administering the Estate (which costs are paid by the Estate). We recommend that you nominate a joint or alternative executor in case the first person predeceases you or is unable or unwilling to act or to continue to act for some reason.
  6. If you have children who are under the age of 18 years, you may wish to nominate a guardian to take care of your children should you die before they reach 18.
  7. Keep your signed Will in a safe place. Notify your family and Executor of the location of your Will. We can store your original Will which is secure and safe from fire, flood and pests.
  8. Review your Will regularly, at least every ten years or if there is a change to your
    circumstances (refer below). For simple changes, a Codicil can be added to your existing Will.

Circumstances that would justify review of your Will

  • Marriage, separation or divorce.
  • Commencing or ending a de facto relationship.
  • Having children (including adopted or foster children or the introduction of stepchildren).
  • A change (or possible change) in the personal status of a beneficiary, such as
    • Bankruptcy
    • Death of a proposed beneficiary
    • Change in circumstances
    • Change in health.
  • Major events affecting your assets including the disposal of a significant portion of your Estate or the disposal of an asset specified in the Will.
  • Desire to include new or alternative beneficiaries, including any charities.
  • Changes to relevant taxation laws.
  • Death, ageing or ill health of an Executor nominated in your Will.

We can prepare simple Wills as well as complex Wills. We will advise you if there are circumstances which merit a complex Will. Usually a simple Will is sufficient.

Scott Legal can advise you according to your circumstances and assist you to design a Will which protects your Estate as much as possible from any claims and to take care of your loved ones.

This information is intended as a guide only. For further information, feel free to contact Leanne Scott of Scott Legal on 03 9111 0078.

© Scott Legal 2020

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