If you are reading this you’ve made the sensible and responsible decision to have a Will drafted.
Making a will is a necessary – and, usually, fairly simple process – that can save your family time, money and grief, as well as give you peace of mind.
Without a Will, your loved ones may not receive the assets you wish to leave them in the event of your death. If you’re unsure of where to start, read on for the basic information you need to know when you’re considering making a will.
What Is a Will?
A Will is a legal document in which you state your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and where appropriate, the care of any minor children or children with special needs.
Your Will should be in writing, and signed by you and two (2) witnesses, otherwise your instructions may not be able to be enforced.
Why Do I Need One?
Your Will allows you to decide how your assets and possessions, such as property, cars or family heirlooms, should be distributed. Business assets can be included however depending on your business structure you may need additional documentation such as a buy sell agreement. If you have minor children, a Will also lets you provide for their care.
Without a Will, those you leave behind will be put through unnecessary stress and expense in dealing with your estate. This can and should be avoided.
What type of Will do I need?
There are basically two alternatives:
A Simple Will – this is a straightforward document where you nominate an executor and direct how your assets are to be divided. This type of will is only appropriate if you don’t need to protect your assets from attack from outside the family (for example from an ex spouse of one of your beneficiaries), don’t need the flexibility to pass assets to future generations in a tax effective manner (for example for grandchildren’s education costs) and don’t have any special needs relatives for which you need to provide.
A Testamentary Trust Will is necessary if you want to obtain maximum protection of your assets and possessions. This also provides great flexibility and tax benefits.
What Doesn’t my Will Cover?
Wills will not generally cover:
- Assets held as ‘joint tenants’ (most couples hold the family home this way)
- Life Insurance proceeds;
- Assets held on trust for you.
You should discuss with us how to deal with these assets for your desired outcome.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
In this case you are said to die intestate. A relative or family friend would need to apply to manage your estate which would be distributed according to a strict formula. Apart from creating additional stress and expense, this will almost always result in your assets not being distributed as you wish. Click here for some true life examples that we’ve dealt with in the past.