As another year rolls to a close and we prepare for the new year to come, it can be a time of reflection for many people. Taking stock of the year and your life may include everything and anything from business and career to family and health. And one of the best ways to reflect on what is important and organise yourself is to review, update, or create your Will. Many people avoid this task, as it can be confronting and is often considered "morbid". But in reality, having a very clear plan in place to care for your loved ones when you pass, should provide you with enormous peace of mind.
Wills are not just for people who own property or have lots of money. Making a Will is a positive step you can take to:
1. Provide for the people you care about
2. Leave particular items to certain people
3. Appoint a person you trust to carry out the instructions in your will (your executor)
4. Leave any other instructions you may have (for example, about your funeral arrangements)
5. Make a gift to charity if you wish.
Making a Will removes the doubts and difficulties that can arise when there is no evidence of the deceased person's wishes. After your death, your property and belongings are referred to as your estate. If you'd like your estate assets to be directed to specific people or charities after you're gone, then a Will is undoubtedly the best way to ensure that this happens. Below are a list of important considerations for you to focus on when compiling your Will.
1. When considering your will/estate, what are the top 5 most important things to focus on?
2. What people would you like to provide for from your estate? Who are your beneficiaries?
3. Who would you like to administer (be responsible for) your estate on your behalf? i.e. your Executor
4. If you have children under the age of 18, whom would you like to nominate as their guardians?
5. Are you likely to have tax payable on your estate and have you ensured that this is minimised?
6. Is there a chance that you've left someone out of your Will who may be entitled to something? Do you feel this person may contest your Will?
7. What is the process to make a will legal?
8. You must be over age 18, of sound mind and you need to nominate in writing where you'd like your assets to go after you pass away.
9. You can purchase the self-will kits at the post office, however, we always recommend getting a Will done through a Solicitor in order to make sure nothing is missed.
What if you don't have a lot of assets? Is it still really important for you to have a Will?
In short, if you want to make sure the assets you do have (even sentimental items such as jewellery or antiques) are directed where you'd like them to go after you pass away, it's imperative for you to outline your wishes in a Will document. Even if you don't have a large estate, the best way to be directive about what you do have is through a Will.
If you don't have a Will, what happens?
If you don't have a Will and you pass away, you're deemed to have died "intestate". When this happens, the Public Trustee will step in and decide where your assets will be directed, regardless of what your true wishes may have been. The Public Trustee will take into account your family relationships and blood relative relationships and direct your estate towards those who have a legal claim on it. This can differ slightly from one State to another.
Who should you share the details of your Will with?
Your solicitor will be aware of them if they've helped you compile your Will, but it's also a good idea to run the contents past your accountant and financial planner in case there are any tax consequences that need to be factored into their planning for you. You should also inform your Executor of your wishes.
How do you choose the right executor of your Will?
Consider someone who will act in your best interests while also being capable of fulfilling the role. You should ideally discuss your Will with your executor first to ensure they're aware of their responsibilities and what's involved. Someone with some financial and administrative experience is an advantage.
If you would like to take advantage of obligation-free review of your current Estate Plan or would like support in compiling your Will, contact us today on 5482 2855