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Wills, Estates & Succession Planning 17 February 2017

Five reasons why you need a Will

Have you ever wondered what will happen to your estate after you die? Have your parents or friends ever mentioned their Will, followed by the question “have you done your Will?”

Preparing a Will is one of those tasks that, deep down, everyone knows they need to do, but we manage to talk ourselves out of it by rationalising that we have no assets worth passing on or that we are not old enough for a Will to be relevant. All too often, however, things do not go as planned and without a Will, the process of administering your estate can become a very challenging task for your grieving family.

Here are our Top Five reasons for why you need to prepare a Will:

1. Choice
Your Will is the only document which allows you to choose what happens to your estate after you die. You can choose:

  1. Who carries out your wishes (your Executor);
  2. Who receives your precious personal effects;
  3. Who benefits from your estate; and
  4. Who will look after your young children and how you wish for them to be raised or educated.

If you have specific or unique wishes regarding these matters, you must include these in your Will to ensure they are taken into consideration when your estate is administered after your death.

2. Understand your position | avoid uncertainty | ease your concern
You have probably heard the myth that, if you die without a Will, your estate goes to the Government. Whilst this can occur in very limited circumstances, it is certainly not the norm, however, your estate can pass in a way that is entirely inconsistent with your wishes.  Your Will can be your voice and provide you with the certainty your estate passes to those you wish to benefit.

The manner in which you own assets can also affect how assets are dealt with after your death. Speak to us to ensure you are fully informed and receive personalised advice on how to structure ownership of assets during your lifetime to ensure what you intend to happen after your death can, in fact, occur.

Additionally, if you are concerned that your Will might be contested, let us help you determine and appreciate the risk. We can advise you in relation to whether a person has the right to make a claim and provide you with options to minimise the risk of such a claim.  Oftentimes, if you provide guidance in your Will, your wishes are more likely to be respected and protracted, costly litigation can be avoided.

3. Receive holistic and bespoke advice
Many people do not realise the following:

  1. Superannuation is dealt with outside a Will; or
  2.  If a child is left out of a Will, that child can potentially succeed in a claim against an estate; or
  3. Powers of Attorney are operative during one’s lifetime, and cease to have any effect after death.

Succession law contains many quirks and we know them all. We discuss all of these matters with you at our initial conference to ensure that “no stone is left unturned” and you are provided with a comprehensive and tailored estate plan.  This is definitely not a case of “one size fits all”.

4. Make life easier for those you leave behind
Would you know what to do if one of your loved ones passed away without a Will? You can see a lawyer and find out the answer, but this give rise to additional cost, as would the work involved in dealing with the estate where no Will is available.

Leaving a Will is akin to leaving a plan for your loved ones. It enables them to make decisions which they know are consistent with your wishes.  It allows you to leave a legacy and not a mess.  At a time when your loved ones may be struggling to deal with your loss, a Will can provide comfort and clarity, and take some of the stress out of a challenging time.

5. Tick it off your list
In this day and age, we are all busy with our day-to-day lives and it is difficult to keep up with all those things we need to get done. If, in the back of your mind, you have been thinking “I really need to get my Will done”, you will be surprised to know that after just two meetings with us, your Will can be finalised and you will wonder why you did not get it done years ago.

In summary
Whilst attempting to express your wishes in a document which you have prepared yourself may be a helpful start, we offer a service which ensures you receive comprehensive advice in relation to your “estate plan” as a whole (including your Will, Superannuation, Powers of Attorney and any other queries you may have).

We ensure your Will conforms with strict legislative requirements, so that when the time comes, the legalities associated with administering your estate are as easy as possible for those you leave behind.

If you require advice or further information in relation to any of the matters discussed in this article, please contact our Wills, Estates & Succession Planning team on 03 5273 5211.

Tess Aberline.
Tess Aberline Project Coordinator & Senior Lawyer Executive Services & Wills, Estates & Succession Planning View profile
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