WILLS – A PLAIN ENGLISH GUIDE | RAFTON FAMILY LAW BLOG

Wills- A Plain English Guide

When Do I Need a Will

A will is a legal document that sets out who will help administer your estate once you die and who you want to receive your assets.

Making a will and drafting it well in advance of any significant life event is the only way you can ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes when you pass away or die.  In the event you do die without a will then the estate is distributed in accordance with a pre set formula and if you do not have any living relatives your estate can and will pass to the government. 

In other situations where you have living relatives, there is a set formula that predetermines how your estate will be divided and this can  create huge difficulties particularly in the case of blended families. 

There is no particular age at which we recommend that someone drafts a will.  Anyone over the age of 18 can have a will and we recommend that a will is considered from a very early age.  A will can and should be updated as life circumstances change and this is particularly so to ensure that your will does not become invalid.

What do I need to think about when making an appointment to draft a will?

The team at Rafton Family Lawyers are qualified to assist you in the planning process in drafting your will and will ask you relevant questions.  Some things to consider before coming in for your appointment and certainly this is not an exhaustive list is:

  1. Have an idea and a list of the assets that you currently hold.  This includes all assets not just your house or car but consider your superannuation, life insurance, your debts, liabilities and any business so that we can discuss with you what type of will might be appropriate.
  2. We will discuss with you your family situation when we draft your will as this also can impact depending on the circumstances.  In some cases a simple will is more than adequate when there is a simple family structure.  In the case of blended or extended family situations or situations of elderly persons and carers then a more complex structure might be considered.
  3. When protecting your beneficiaries inheritance or crafting a tax effective estate plan, these are some of the things to think about as to what you would like to achieve out of your will and the distribution of your estate to your loved ones after you die.
  4. A big factor is to consider your executor.  The executor or administrator is a person who you would trust to oversee the administration of your estate after you die and will most certainly be someone who you trust that can work co operatively with the solicitor that you appoint.
  5. If you have young children you may want to consider appropriate guardians that you can nominate to care for them after you die.

Where will my original will be kept?

At Rafton Family Lawyers our wills and estates package includes a one off fee for preparation of your will which also includes us storing it in safe custody in a fire proof safe in our offices.  Obviously, the document is your document and the original is required by your estate when you die so you are at liberty to uplift your will and take it with you if you have an appropriate storage facility at home.  In the case of storage at the offices of Rafton Family Lawyers, we will provide a copy to you and we recommend that you immediately let your executor know where the original is held.

When should I update my will?

It is highly recommended that you update your will at least every 5 years as a guideline.  There are some circumstances where you should urgently update your will and that is:

  1. If you remarry
  2. If a beneficiary  under your will dies or becomes bankrupt particularly if they are a major beneficiary
  3. If there has been a sudden change in your financial circumstances.
  4. If your family circumstances change aside from getting remarried, if you separate or divorce this can also be a trigger event to make any previous wills invalid.
  5. If the executor or trustee that you had previously appointed under your will becomes unsuitable due to ill health or age or if they die.
  6. If you sell or give away assets that you have specifically nominated in your will making the balance of the will difficult to interpret or if that could create some confusion in relation to administration of the will.
  7. If you buy or inherit significant assets and the major change in your financial situation

Our team of lawyers are able to assist in relation to planning for and drafting of your will.  Please contact us and ask us for our special rate for pension or concession holders.

Read our plain English handbooks

These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.

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