More than 50% of Australians don’t have a Will and more than half of those who do acknowledge it needs updating.
Estate Planning in Australia Final Report, Charles Sturt University and The University of Adelaide (2017)
This article explains some of the common reasons people put off making a Will and addresses some misconceptions around Will making. I hope you find it useful and helps you jump over any hurdles that are stopping you from making a Will.
I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ASSETS
While the gifting of assets is a major part of a Will, a Will also:
- Appoints an executor to handle your affairs (e.g. collect in any assets, pay your debts, cancel accounts, arrange your funeral and cremation / burial);
- Appoints a trustee to hold your estate on trust for any minor children;
- Appoints a guardian to look after your minor children; and
- Gives directions about whether you want to be buried or cremated and what kind of funeral service you would like.
Wills can also include testamentary trusts which are great for intergenerational wealth, asset protection for vulnerable beneficiaries and tax planning.
While someone may not own a home, most Australians have superannuation. Most of the time life insurance is also attached to superannuation. Sometimes superannuation and life insurance are the biggest assets people have. It is very important to consider superannuation and life insurance as part of the estate planning process.
Consideration also needs to be given to digital assets (e.g. photographs, videos, music, documents, social media accounts, digital currency) and whether instructions need to be left alongside your Will to deal with them.
I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT DYING, IT’LL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME
Unfortunately, one thing that is certain in life is death (and tax). While it’s not the best topic to discuss over the dinner table, it is important to make a Will so you have peace of mind that your family are taken care of and don’t have a mess to deal with when you die.
I DON’T NEED A WILL, IT WILL ALL GO TO MY PARTNER ANYWAY
The rules of intestacy (i.e. the law that stipulates how your estate is divided if you don’t have a Will) vary in each jurisdiction in Australia and you might be surprised to know that your spouse may not be entitled to all of your estate if you die.
Without leaving a will, you aren’t making it clear who you wish to leave your estate to and this could result in dispute about your estate when you die. Estate disputes will certainly cause more grief for your loved ones and diminish your estate in legal costs.
I CAN’T DECIDE WHO TO APPOINT AS EXECUTOR OR GUARDIAN FOR MINOR CHILDREN
If you don’t have a Will, there are laws that stipulate who who can take control of your estate when you die. This may not be who you ultimately want to control your estate. Check out my article ‘Stuck deciding who your executor should be?’ to help you decide who to appoint as your executor.
Appointing a guardian for your minor children is one of the biggest decisions you will face when making a Will. Appointing a guardian helps to remove doubt about who the preferred carer is for your minor children. While appointing a guardian in your Will does not avoid the Family Court’s ability to review care arrangements for minor children, the court will take into consideration your nomination. The way to do this is by leaving a statement with your Will setting out your reasons for appointing the guardian/s. Parents should also leave a statement to the appointed guardian to assist them in understanding how they want their child raised.
Having a chat with an experienced estate planning lawyer may help you decide who to appoint as executor and guardian.
I’m sure you know the importance of having a Will but just never seem to get around to it. I get it…between work, kids, family, friends, household tasks and everything else in our busy lives, making a will is likely the last thing you want to do. But having a Will is extremely important if you want to ensure your loved ones benefit in the way you want them to. Preparing a will also makes the process of sorting out your estate when you die much less burdensome and less costly for your family.
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If you have any questions or need assistance with your estate planning, please call us on 07 3174 5730 or book a free chat online.