Advice for Drafting Your Will

20th May 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic COVID-19 has prompted many to take care of estate planning.

Nearly half of all Australians do not have a will, and for those who do, many are not up to date. Marriage, divorce, new family members, deaths may have all caused the need for changes.

It is better to spend money now with a good lawyer, rather than have to retain them to sort out the mess without a clearly defined will.

A will is critical to helping your beneficiaries understand how you want your assets shared, who will look after your children, and it can even provide instructions for your funeral.

A will must conform to strict legal requirements, be precisely worded and witnessed properly for it to be valid.

Here are some common rules for your will to keep in mind:

  • You must be at least 18 years old or married
  • The will must be in writing
  • You must be of sound mind and understand the implications of making a will
  • Your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses
  • You must appoint an executor to be responsible for carrying out your wishes
  • You must keep your will in a safe place.

What are some pitfalls?

  • Financial arrangements made in your lifetime, such as debts, don't die with you – they must be honoured by your estate.
  • Superannuation is a minefield: unless you have a current binding nomination, selecting the beneficiaries may be up to the discretion of the trustee of your fund.
  • Even if you disinherit immediate family members or dependants, they may still be able to contest your will.

Why do I need legal advice?

Your will can ensure that your wishes are carried out. If it is unclear it can be contested. Special attention and expertise drawing up your will is needed to avoid these situations. Things to consider include:

  • Balancing the needs of your partner and your children, including step children.
  • Taxation of your assets
  • Superannuation - making a binding benefit nomination
  • How are jointly held assets such as property dealt with correctly
  • Gifts you give to someone before you die
  • Future control of a company or family trust
  • How are your sentimental items distributed
  • What happens to your pets

Talk to us today

Please contact us to discuss your will and estate planning.