Do I Need a Will to Protect my family?

A Will is a legal document that determines who will receive your property and possessions after you pass away. It is very important for all Australians who are over the age of 18 to have a Will. As we live longer, and have more significant relationships, dividing our estate after a death becomes increasingly more complicated if a Will isn’t left.

If you don’t make a legal Will, your estate is distributed using a formula determined by the government – this formula may be not meet your wishes when it comes to distributing your wealth and assets and looking after your friends and family.

Should I Make my own Will?

The Law Society of NSW advises against the use of DIY Will Kits and we agree. The laws around Wills and Estates are complex and making your own Will can leave your Will invalid and your Estate vulnerable. The nature of your estate and your family structure can have a big impact on how your estate is distributed. If you are concerned about not having a Will our friendly Wills & Estates Lawyers can explain the Will making process for you.

A Will Benefits Your Family

By having a Will drafted by a lawyer you will give your family members peace of mind in a time of great loss. The last thing you would want to do after death is burden your family with legal complications. A Will serves to relieve them of the extreme stress and uncertainty that occurs when a person dies without a Will. If you should pass without a Will and be considered ‘intestate’, this can cause delays in dividing up an estate and expenses for your family.

Do I need an Executor for my Will?

When you make a Will you have the power to select a person to be your administrator or trustee. An executor takes the responsibility of dealing with your estate after your death. This is an important role that should be given to trustworthy individual as they will be the one who will administer and organize your estates affairs. They will need to obtain a Grant of Probate of your Will, attend to payment of estate liabilities, finalise your taxation affairs, collect assets and finally distribute the estates funds. You should choose someone who is trustworthy, responsible and comfortable dealing with financial matters.

Before you appoint someone you should make sure they are willing to take on the role. There are a number of options when it comes to selecting an executor. It could be a family member or close friend or it could be your Solicitor or an Accountant. You can also use a Trustee company or the NSW Trustee and Guardian.

A Will Makes Administering Your Estate Cheaper and more Efficient

After a person dies the estate will need to be administered and a Grant of Probate is required. If you have a Will this process is much easier and reduces the time taken to obtain probate. Having a Will also reduces the legal costs to administer your estate. Such legal costs can become a burden to your family, which may become a problem if your family is dependent on your financial situation and would benefit from a gift from your estate.

What Happens to My Will if I Marry or Divorce?

In general, a Will is revoked on marriage and divorce. There are some exceptions to this however such as if you were to make a Will in contemplation of marriage. Another exception would be if the marriage occurred after 1 March 2008, then any provision in the Will in favour of your spouse and any appointment of executor would stay in place, but otherwise the Will would be revoked. We recommend that you always update your Will when you get married.

The situation is similar if you should get divorced in that your Will will automatically be revoked. You should prepare a new Will as soon as possible after separation.

Can I change my Mind?

You can cancel (or revoke) your Will at any time so long as you have testamentary capacity. If you do decide to change your will you will need to prepare a new Will.

How Often Should I Review My Will?

It is a good idea to review your will after significant life events or every 5 years to make sure it reflects your current circumstances. If you have your Will with Dawson & Gardiner, you can simply give us a call and come in to quickly review or update your Will.

Examples of when you should change your Will may be:

  • If there is a change in the status of your relationship, for example if you marry, enter into a defacto relationship, separate or divorce.
  • If your family changes for example if you have more children or grandchildren. Or if there is a death in your family.
  • If you have a change in your circumstances for example there is a change in the relationship status of one of your family or your financial status or health changes.
  • If your executor passes away or you no longer wish them to act as executor dure to ill health or other reasons.
  • If your financial status changes, for example if you dispose or acquire assets. This could be in business, real estate or even acquiring a piece of jewellery that you wish to pass to a particular person.
  • If your wishes have changed for whatever reason.

The lawyers at Dawson & Gardener can assist you in preparing your Will and making sure it is valid. They can also advise you on the how to structure your Will to benefit your beneficiaries.
Phone: 02 4954 8666