- It is prudent and cost effective to have a Will drawn up so that your assets can be distributed following death. It is more expensive to distribute assets without a Will as there is more work in preparing the alternative set of estate documents.
- If you fail to have a will then at death your assets and wealth will be distributed according to the Administration Act. For example if you are married with children your surviving spouse or defacto partner will receive the first $155,000.00 and then the remainder of your net estate will be divided up with one third going to the spouse/partner and two thirds between any children. This could leave a surviving spouse/partner in financial difficulty and having to sell the house.
- Parents should have a Will so that they give instructions on guardianship and upbringing of children including the availability of finance for such purpose. In particular a Will can provide for a trustee to hold funds in trust until surviving children reach the age when you want them to receive funds. There can also be flexibility in the terms of the Will to allow the trustee to release funds for medical or educational purposes for upbringing, welfare or educational purposes.
- People with children by different relationships need carefully drawn wills to give effect to their wishes. A surviving partner may need a life estate in the home so that he/she does not have to sell it but instead can continue to live there. You might need to consider life insurance policies to make payouts to children for their share so that the life estate option works and there is no pressure on the surviving partner from disgruntled children.
- If you are leaving someone out of your will who might later dispute the will then you are strongly advised to supply a letter of explanation to be kept with your will.
- Any Relationship Property Agreement that you have signed needs to be reviewed and taken in to consideration.
- If you have a family trust then seperately you will need a memorandum of wishes to provide direction to your surviving or new trustees following your death. Do not forget that the provisions in your will, (which concern the distribution of your personal estate) do not apply to assets within a family trust.
- If you as the will-maker have any mental capacity issues, such as the onset of dementia, you must disclose this to your lawyer before your Will is drafted. It is prudent for your doctor to supply a certificate as to your mental capacity and this certificate (or a copy) should be kept with your Will. This will assist your executors in the event that your Will is challenged.
Please click this link for a Will Instruction Pack to complete.