A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. Having a clear, legally valid and up-to-date Will is the best way to help ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.
If you die without a Will no-one knows who you wanted as your beneficiaries, or who you wanted as your executor (the person or organisation you nominate to administer your estate upon your death). Your assets will be distributed according to a set formula with certain relatives receiving a defined percentage of your assets, despite what you may have wished.
Your Will is probably the most important document you will ever sign, so it’s advisable that you have it prepared by a legal professional.
Your Will expresses your wishes at a particular point in time. It is advisable to regularly review your Will as your circumstances change so that it accurately reflects your current wishes. Situations where you may want to update your Will include:
- Separation or divorce
- Starting a de facto relationship
- Having children or grandchildren
- Your children having remarried or divorced and have extended families
- The executor named in the Will, having become ill, is unable to handle the responsibility, or has died
- A beneficiary named in the Will having died: when writing your Will, it is wise to name substitute beneficiaries
Death of spouse
- The value of legacies diminishing over time: while you may have left a sum of money that seemed significant when you last made your Will, what is it worth in ‘today’s’ dollars?
- Retirement often results in people restructuring their affairs. This is an ideal time to be proactive in your estate planning and possibly look at setting up tax effective arrangements through your Will
- When you buy or sell assets: there are many examples of people bequeathing assets which they sold before they died. This resulted in some beneficiaries receiving nothing, while others received significantly more than was intended in the original Will.
- We recommend that you review your Will every five years or whenever you have significant changes to your circumstances such as those outlined above.