Nearly half of all Australians don’t have a valid Will.
It is important for everyone over the age of 18 to have a Will so that their wishes are followed and their assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes after they die.
If you don’t have a Will, your assets will be divided in accordance with the rules of intestacy, that is, when you have not made a Will. If you die intestate, it is very likely that your estate will not be distributed as you would have desired.
A Will is also the place where you can indicate to your family and friends your wishes on other important matters, such as who you want to be the guardians of your children, and whether you have any specific burial wishes.
Regularly review your Will
Preparing a Will is not a once-off event. It is sensible to review your Will regularly, and we suggest that this be done a minimum of every three to five years.
If your circumstances have changed since you last made your Will, you will need to review it. If one or more of the following applies to you, you should update your Will:
- You have married, separated, or divorced;
- You are in a new relationship;
- You have had a child or children;
- The person you named as executor has died or become incapacitated; or
- A beneficiary has died or become incapacitated.
It could be that a Will made many years ago is still appropriate, just as it may be that a recently made Will is now out of date. It is likely that your needs and circumstances will change many times during your life and with those changes it is prudent to consider updating your Will.
Healthy Will checklist
There are a number of life events that can impact on your Will and which mean you need to revisit and update it.
- Have you nominated any specific gifts that are no longer valid or don’t exist, for example, have you sold a property that you had left to someone in the Will?
- Have you acquired any new assets that you would want to make specific plans for in your Will?
- Would you like to change your burial wishes?
- Would you like to consider creating a more complex will that involves a testamentary trust for asset protection and taxation advantages for your children?
At the time you review your Will, you need to check your superannuation and life insurance, which is often now a part of your superannuation policy.
Many people assume their superannuation is dealt with in Will, but that is not necessarily the case. You need to review your Will, to ensure that it has been drafted to provide for your superannuation entitlements to be brought into your estate. If this is not the case, there may be significant taxation implications for your dependent children.
You need to look at your superannuation policy to check how you have nominated that your super should be allocated, and that it is still allocated in the way you want. If you have completed a Binding Death Nomination form for your superannuation fund, you need to ensure that this is still current as they expire every 3 years.
The important thing is to consider your circumstances at every major personal milestone in your life.
Any Will you have made is likely to become out of date and no longer accurately represent your wishes in some way following changes in your life, possibly within a few years of drawing it up.
If you would like to discuss a new Will or changes in your circumstances and a review of your current Will please call us on (02) 8014 5885 or email email@example.com.