Over the last month or so, depending on how serious you have treated COVID-19, a number of us have considered our own mortality. However, pandemic or not, it is always a good time to consider getting your Will prepared, or updated.
What is a Final Will and Testament?
A will is a document that directs what happens to your assets after you die.
We work with you to ensure that it meets the technical requirements required by the law to be recognised as a “valid will”.
What assets need to be in my Will?
We encourage people to be specific about the assets which they own, and who should receive them should they survive you. However, its important to remember that some assets may not be able to be distributed. For instance, you may not be able to pass assets to your beneficiaries if they are jointly owned with another person. You may also have complicating factors with the structure of your financial affairs, such as the existence of family companies, self managed superannuation funds or trusts.
Lawyers can assist you to navigate this, and assist you to draft a document that deals with the assets you have, and assist in dealing with the interests that you may hold in assets with other people.
What happens if I do not have a Will at the time I die?
If you die without a Will, your estate will be dealt with under the laws of “intestacy”. In other words, your assets may be distributed under the law sees your estate “should” be distributed using a devised formula which has more or less remained the same for centuries. The reality is that these days, families are not simple, nor are relationships with people in your family. Due to the complexities of our lives now, allowing intestacy laws to direct assets to beneficiaries, this can cause considerable delays, expenses and unnecessary hardship.
How much will a Will cost me?
While we are unable to give you an exact cost, as we are not get privy to your particular circumstances and needs, we generally advise that your Will will cost less than $500 per person. However, the price of the Will may increase in instances where you wish to insert complex arrangements such as testamentary trusts. However, we will be able to give you a precise cost after speaking with you and learn about your circumstances.
Why can’t I just use a “Do It Yourself Will Kit”?
We do not discourage people from using these Will Kits, made available by the Public Trustee and other organisations. Our view is that a simple Will is better than no Will. However, those “kits” assume that your circumstances are basic but that is, for many of us, not the case. Some factors which may complicate the drafting of the Will could be second marriages, children outside of marriages, and joint assets with people who are not spouses. We advise that a Will drafted by a lawyer is best because often, the only way you ever find out whether a Will has been drafted correctly using those kits, will be if or when the Will is reviewed by a Court or contested by a party.
Should I get a Will if I am only in my 20’s?
Every person who is over the age of 18 years should have a Will drafted. Particularly so if the person has begun to, or plans to, build up valuable assets such as cars, superannuation or the building of a home.
Whilst a grim reality, death isn’t reserved for the elderly. Sometimes, unexpected tragedies happen.
Even a simple will saves much expense and family stress in the event of a sudden death.
How Do I Know if My Will Needs Reviewed?
You should consider reviewing or updating your Will if your personal or financial circumstances, including:
• marriage – which makes an earlier will invalid;
• birth of a child;
• buying a house;
• divorce, or separation from a de facto partner; and
If you wish to speak to us about the drafting or updating of your Will, please do not hesitate to contact either Kathryn Adams, Lawyer, or Bianca Muller, Paralegal, on 0452 614 454.
** article drafted with the assistance of information provided by the Law Society of South Australia.