Do I need a will?

Published on February 25, 2016 10:54 am, by

Dying without a will, or intestate, gives you no control over the distribution of your assets.  Your assets would be distributed by a legal formula relevant to the state you live in.  Decisions are made by somebody you do not know or choose.  Your assets may be given to somebody you would not leave them to, or somebody you would leave them to may be left with nothing.

According to NSW Trustees & Guardian 45% of Australian’s do not have a valid will.  Anybody over the age of 18 who has testamentary capacity is able to have a will prepared.

Before preparing a will there are things you may wish to consider –

  • Who you wish to leave your estate to?
  • Who do you trust to execute your will fairly and accurately?
  • Have you considered how you will protect your beneficiaries?

Once you are prepared it’s worth doing some research about who you will have draft your will for you.  There are also times that it’s advisable to review and potentially update your will.

How long is my will valid for?

Until you update it, change it, revoke it, or get married.

What is an executor and what do they have to do?

The executor is responsible for administering your estate.  This can be a complex job and includes but may not be limited to –

  • Filing an application for probate
  • Finding out what debts and liability you have that need to be paid
  • Gathering up the assets which will be used to pay debts
  • Working out which assets to sell to repay debts in which order (though this can be listed in the will)
  • Ensure tax returns are lodged for the deceased individual and the estate
  • Potentially take ownership of assets before being legally able to sell
  • Pay debts
  • Distribute remaining assets in line with the terms of the will
  • Be involved in arranging the funeral

When should I update/review my will?

It is essential that you prepare a new will when you are married as getting married revokes your current will (unless it was made anticipating the marriage).

Although the following events do not revoke your will it is recommended you review it at these times:

  • Having children
  • Your child or children get divorced or become part of a blended family
  • Your spouse passes away
  • You now wish to leave a portion of your estate to a charity or cause
  • Your asset position has changed, you have sold an asset that was to be bequeathed to a specific person and you still wish for them to receive an inheritance
  • And in the event your executor passes away or is unable/unwilling to administer your estate you will need to change your will to reflect a new executor

Having a will gives you the confidence that upon your death your assets are distributed as you wish.  It’s important to ensure that somebody you trust knows the location of your will, as a lost will can lead to intestacy.  As a final tip, make sure you understand how your Superannuation is set up, and whether you need to include anything pertaining to that in your will.

Related Articles –
What’s an Emergency fund and why do I need one? 
Knowing your Super
10 Tips to being MoneyBrilliant

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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