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A will spares loved ones extra grief

Everyone needs a will even if you expect to live another 40 years. It is not just lawyers that will tell you this; your accountant, financial planner, family and friends may tell you horror stories about people they know who have died without having first made a will.

Without a will, a portion of your estate may be lost to fees and administration. More importantly, who and how you would like your assets to be distributed to may not be in accordance with your wishes.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you pass away without a valid will, you are said to die "intestate". Your estate may not be divided according to your wishes because the law (in Tasmania this situation is governed by the Intestacy Act 2010) sets out how your estate will be distributed.

Dying without a will may lead to the following problems for those surviving you:

  • Your next-of-kin will usually be left to sort everything out instead of an executor appointed under a will. This can be emotionally distressing for your next of kin, and unnecessary legal and Court costs will be incurred.
  • There can be significant costs in dealing with the responsibilities associated with the administration of the estate.

It is also important that you review your will periodically when your circumstances change, for example if you get married, start a business or have children, to name a few.

What assets make up your estate?

Not all assets can be distributed through your will, only those owned under your individual name.

Some examples of assets which are non-estate assets are:

  • Discretionary Trusts;
  • Assets owned in joint names;
  • Company or Business assets; and
  • Superannuation Funds.

Can I use a “Do-It-Yourself” Will kit?

Yes you can make a will yourself, however it's not recommended. The main reason being that if you haven’t done it correctly, when you die you will effectively die without a valid will and the intestacy laws will apply to the distribution of your assets.

Any apparent savings in “do-it-yourself” will kits can be lost in legal fees incurred by your family after you die.

Lawyers are qualified and experienced in obtaining accurate and complete instructions and will also provide for the placement of your will in safe custody, usually at no charge. It is of no help if you make a will which cannot be located.

What do you need to consider when meeting with a lawyer about preparing your will?

It's important to consider the following when meeting with your lawyer:

  • Who will you appoint as executor(s) for your will?
  • Who will be the beneficiaries of your estate and how will it be divided up?
  • Have you made adequate provision in your will for your dependants?
  • Do you want to appoint a guardian for your children?
  • Do you want to nominate an amount of maintenance for your children if you die before they reach 18?
  • Do you want to give other directions to your executors, for example where would you like to be buried or cremated?
  • Do you want to leave part of your estate to a charitable organisation?

This list is not exhaustive and you should include any other issues that you need to discuss with your lawyer.

For more information about wills and estates, contact Cormiston Legal on (03) 6332 9353.

 

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