Considering drafting a Will but not sure why, whether or how to go about it? Have a read of some common questions we are regularly asked regarding planning for the future.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document written to express a person’s wishes as to how they wish to dispose of their money and property upon their death.
Do I really need a Will?
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a Will.
A Will is your decision regarding who gets what when you are gone.
A Will allows your loved ones to know what your wishes were; how you want to distribute your assets; payout debts; and who you would like to benefit from your estate.
What is the estate?
‘Estate’ is the term used to describe all the assets of a person who has died.
What if I have no money or expensive assets?
Items of sentimental value also form part of an estate, and these are often much more important to a person. A Will allows you to decide who will receive your most prized possessions when you are gone.
A Will can also contain directions regarding funeral planning and arrangements. This can be particularly helpful for your loved ones who will otherwise need to manage such arrangements and decisions. Drafting a Will is a practical way to ease their burden.
Who or what is an Executor? And what do they do?
The Executor (male) / Executrix (female) is the person you nominate to be responsible for handling your affairs and dealing with your estate.
You choose the executor that you feel most comfortable with. This could be a family member, spouse, friend, or even a legal representative. We suggest you nominate at least 2 and no more than 4.
They essentially stand in your shoes once you are gone and have the legal power to deal with all your financial affairs. They work with your lawyer to apply for Probate, pay out your liabilities, and then distribute your estate. They may be required to complete tax returns.
Who or what is a Beneficiary?
Beneficiaries are the people you are going to leave your estate to.
If a potential beneficiary is young, you can specify what age they need to be before they receive their share.
What if I decide not to make a Will?
If you don’t have a Will your estate will be divided according to the law and you have no say in how your estate will be distributed.
I already have a Will, do I ever need to change it?
A Will should be updated if your wishes change.
A Will should also be updated if your circumstances change, particularly if you get married, if you are divorced, or separated from a partner. Getting married cancels Wills previously signed, so it is very important for you to make a new one.
Can I stop someone from benefiting from my Will?
You can exclude whomever you like BUT you should always have a letter that is dated and signed the same day as your Will stating clearly why that person has been excluded.
Can anyone challenge a Will?
They must be closely related to you, for example:
- Your spouse or domestic partner (or former partner eligible to apply to court for a property settlement);
- Your parent, child or stepchild, or someone treated as a child by you;
- Your registered carer, member of your household or your grandchildren may also be eligible if they can show that they were dependent or partly dependent on you.
If I want to Draft a Will what information do you need?
In drafting a Will we will simply get you to fill out a form which lists key information such as;
- Your full name (and any details of any other name you have been known by), address and occupation;
- The name and addresses of your chosen Executor/Executrix;
- The name and addresses of your Beneficiaries;
- Information regarding your assets, such as property, bank accounts, trusts etc.
Is there anything else I should consider?
We will also discuss with you the need to draft Powers of Attorney, which are legal documents where you give some or all of your legal decision-making powers to someone else while you are alive. It may not become active until you lose mental capacity.