A Will is a legal document that determines the distribution of your assets after you pass away as per your wishes. If your Will is well written and up to date it can protect your estate and save a lot of heartache and stress on the family. Some advantages of having a will are:
- The right people will benefit from your estate as per your wishes
- Eliminates disagreements among those who are close to you
- Will help those responsible understand and manage your affairs as per the conditions in the Will
- enable your estate to be settled quickly
What happens if you die without a Will?
If you die without a legal Will, state law determines how your estate is distributed.
In most situations your closest relatives will share in the estate you leave behind, however:
- the court has the right to determine who will be granted administration of your estate
- the court may grant administration to a person or organisation you do not want managing your affairs
- the net value of your estate will be shared between your living relatives according to state law
There are many disadvantages to not writing a Will:
- you will have no say as to who will benefit from your estate
- no distinction is made between able and disabled beneficiaries when no Will is present
- your estate may take a long time to settle and may cost significantly more than if you have a Will
Who can make a Will?
If you are over 18 years of age and have legal capacity, you can make a Will. You can also make a Will if you are under 18 years of age and are married, or with consent from the court. To have legal capacity to make a Will you need to understand what a Will is and what it does, what property you own and who is important to you to be able to consider any claims that may be made against the estate, and be of sound mind.
You should consider writing or updating your Will if:
- your marital status changes
- you buy or dispose of a significant asset such as a home or business
- you have a child
- you need to change the person identified as the executor of your Will
- you would like to change those identified as beneficiaries in your Will
Making sure your Will is up-to-date and legally sound is the best way to help ensure your assets are protected and your wishes are carried out.
Seek professional help when writing my Will?
Estate law is a complex minefield. I would recommend engaging a legal professional that specialises in estate law. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out in the way you wish them to be. For a small amount of money you can sleep at night knowing that your estate is taken care of.