What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document in which you state how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. A Will also enables you to choose an Executor who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are met.
Statistics taken from ABS 2008 to 2010:
- 54% of Australians don’t have Wills
- 33% of Australians first marriages end in divorce
- 60% of Australians second marriages end in divorce
Since year 2000 there has been an increase by 50% of blended and step families (Example: The Brady Bunch is a step family, because they each had their own children. But, if they had a child together, the family would be called blended).
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you die with assets in your name, and without a Will:
- The division and distribution of your estate is governed by a statute, called an “intestate” law. If you are survived by a spouse and children, your estate is usually divided between your spouse and children. If you have only children (or grandchildren), the estate is divided among your children (and grandchildren). If you have neither spouse, children, nor grandchildren, the estate is distributed to your parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins, depending on who survives you.
- The person (or persons) who inherits your estate is usually appointed to serve as the administrator of your estate, to collect your assets and settle your estate.
- If you have minor children who inherit from you, a court will appoint a guardian for their estates until they reach the age of eighteen.
- If you have minor children and your husband or wife did not survive you, a court will appoint a guardian for their persons.
These laws do not always cause problems, but there are many situations in which you will want to arrange things differently by your Will.
What if I don’t want the courts to determine how my assets are split?
In order to prevent uncertainty or misunderstanding, the creation of a Will is essential as it will state who both the primary and substitute beneficiaries are, rather than allow the law to determine who they are and what they should take.
Did you know that if you and your partner have a Will (husband, wife) and die together – and it cannot be proven who died first – then the younger partner receives the Estate and their Will is actioned accordingly. Would you be happy with this ? Has your partner satisfied your need for how the assets are split?
Can you leave specific gifts to anyone you choose?
If you wish to make gifts or leave a portion of you assets to your children, step-children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, charities or a trust, a professionally drafted Will determine the various parties’ property rights and appoint an administrator to make decisions and ensure your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Why is an administrator necessary?
It is important that you appoint an administrator rather than leave it to the court to determine who should administer your estate. Appointing an administrator yourself may prevent any complications or uncertainty for surviving relatives. If you do not appoint an administrator, any difference of opinion that cannot be resolved will exacerbate an already traumatic situation for surviving relatives and may lead to legal actions, unnecessary expenses and worse yet, irreparable rifts between family members.