Why is making a will important?
Top 4 questions to ask yourself when writing a will.
We get it, making a will can be a confronting process, which is probably why seven out of 10 people who come through our doors don't have one.
But, quite simply, the implications of not having a will can be detrimental to the future of your personal finance that you've worked so hard to build and your beneficiaries.
- Firstly, a will is a legal document which sets out who receives your property and possessions when you die.
- Secondly, to have a valid will it must be in writing, it must be signed and your signature must be witnessed by two people, who also need to sign the will.
And, yes, you can have a DIY will, but to avoid any unwanted complications such as tax liabilities for your beneficiaries, we recommend having one of our preferred partners, a solicitor or a trustee company do it for you. Their fees will vary depending on the complexities of your will, but consider it a smart financial investment.
Thirdly, if you die without a valid will, it's known legally as a 'dying intestate'. This means:
You won't have a say about how your estate is distributed;
It can cause complications, delays and extra costs for those you leave behind; and
If you don't have any relatives closer than a first cousin, your estate goes to the government.
No doubt, your money and assets have taken a lifetime to attain, so it's important to have control over where it goes when you die.
To help understand the process of making a will, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself when setting one up.
1. Who should I appoint as my executor?
The executor is the person responsible for handling your estate when you die. It should be someone over 18, who you trust and who is up to the task. Alternatively, you can appoint a public Trustee and Guardian or your solicitor for a fee.
2. What happens if I marry or divorce?
If you marry, divorce or you've been separated for a long time it's important to make a new will. Circumstances change and your will should reflect this to avoid any unwanted complications among old and new family members. Remember, you are free to change your will at any time.
3. How should I divide my assets?
Who you leave your assets to is totally up to you, but you do have a general obligation to provide adequately for your spouse or de facto partner, your children and any other dependents. Failing to do this can see them bringing a claim against your estate.
4. Where should I keep my will?
It goes without saying that you should keep your will somewhere safe and tell your executor where it is. If they can't find it, it will be invalid. Your solicitor can also store a copy (for a fee), and some people also write their executor a separate letter with further instructions outlining their intentions.
Contact us and we will organise a free consultation with one of our business partners who specialise in will and estate planning advice that is easy to understand.