It may surprise many that an estimated 75% of Australians do not have a Will. So, if you are in the 75%, what does that mean? If you die without a Will, your assets are distributed under a formula that depends on your family circumstances. The end result is usually quite different to what most would intend.
Can I write my own Will? Yes. But!!! There are legal requirements for a valid Will – if you get it wrong, the Will may not be valid. Estate law is complex and often plays out in ways you would probably not think to be fair or make sense. You just don’t know what you don’t know and a lot can go wrong!
Okay, you are in that 25% who do have a Will. Is that Will I did 15 years ago still okay? Maybe. But!!! Are you sure it is still relevant – have you read it recently? What suited your circumstances 15 years ago may not suit your circumstances now. Maybe your kids have grown up and your parents are too old to act as executor.
Between your home, your superannuation and life insurance, your estate may now have substantial value. Further consideration and planning may now be important. Your affairs are now likely to be far more complex. Superannuation, managed investments, business assets or personal trusts all complicate your estate planning. Also the use of testamentary trusts at a reasonable cost has revolutionised estate planning! 15 years ago they were rarely used except by the wealthy.
Damaging estate disputes often erupt due to circumstances the deceased had no idea would cause a problem. Almost always, the dispute could have been avoided. Experienced Wills and Estates lawyers see regularly what goes wrong when Wills are not properly thought through and avoid those mistakes.
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