We all know that making a will is important, but many of us put it off.
Studies suggest that over half of adults in Australia don’t have a valid will. The Western Australian Public Trustee even found that only 19 per cent of families with young children had made a will – which could leave families vulnerable in the event of a sudden, unexpected death.
Here are some reasons why you should really start thinking about making a will, no matter how old you are.
Save your family stress
When a person dies without a will, intestacy laws come into play, dictating how their money and possessions are shared out. If a death is sudden or unexpected, not having a valid will could mean that certain people are left without enough financial support.
Perhaps the best reason for making a will is to avoid leaving your family with legal issues to battle through after you die. While dealing with bereavement, the last thing anyone wants is to have to grapple with complicated inheritance laws.
Making a will makes the entire process of managing your estate much easier, less expensive and less time-consuming for your family after you die.
Appoint executors you trust
Making a lets you to choose executors to oversee the management of your estate after you die. Executors are responsible looking after the estate, carrying out tasks such as informing banks and building societies that you have died and giving out the inheritance as written in the will.
The role of executor brings with it a lot of responsibility. When you make your will, you can name someone to be an executor who is organised, honest and trustworthy. You can rest assured that your affairs will be handled properly after you die.
Outline the assets of the estate
Making a will allows you to outline all the assets of the estate, such as any property you own and money in different bank accounts.
This can help your family by making sure the executor knows exactly what is included in the estate, saving time and worry. You should also make note of any liabilities such as outstanding mortgages or loans – you should also regularly update your will to include any new assets or liabilities.
Appoint guardians for your children
If you have children under the age of 18, you should consider naming guardians in your will. If you die suddenly without a will, the Family Court will decide who should become their guardian. Although the Court always aims to act in a child’s best interests, this may not be the family member or friend you assumed would care for them if something happened to you.
In your will you can name family members or even close friends as guardians for your children. This ensures that your children will be looked after by someone you trust in the event of your death. It is essential to discuss your intentions with the prospective guardian, as well as obtain their consent before making your will.
Control who inherits from your estate
Making a will gives you control over who inherits what from your estate after you die. This can be useful if you want someone to receive a particular amount, or if you want to divide the estate in an unusual way.
For example, if you have divorced and remarried, you may want to make special provisions for your ex, or specify what your children will inherit. Ultimately, a will helps give you more control over what you want to happen and you can discuss legal details with a solicitor to ensure every possibility is covered.
Give inheritance gifts
Wills can also be a useful way to give gifts after you die. You may choose to leave a small amount of money to a friend or distant relative, for example. People often specify items of furniture, jewellery, vehicles and family heirlooms to be given to certain family members. This can all be included in the will.
Achieve peace of mind
Apart from all the legal and financial benefits of making a will, knowing that your affairs are in order will give you peace of mind. It can be reassuring to know that everything has been arranged and your wishes will be carried out in a way that causes the least stress for your loved ones.
Find out more about managing an estate after the death of a loved one.