Why do I need a Will?
Some people think that they don’t need a will because if they died without a Will “it will all just go to the right people”.
But will it?
Risks of not having a Will
Dying without a Will means that an estate is distributed in accordance with the laws of the State or Territory where the person ordinarily resided or where certain assets are located. In some cases, foreign laws may apply. It’s not always straightforward to determine which laws apply to the deceased’s estate, particularly in cases where people were born overseas or hold assets in foreign jurisdictions.
The entitlements of beneficiaries can also be complicated in cases where the deceased was divorced, separated but not divorced or had children with more than one person. The division of the estate may not occur as one might think.
The process for enabling the administration of the estate is often delayed where there is no Will. An administrator is required for the purposes of administering the estate. Without the appointment of an executor, which is made by Will, someone needs to be nominated by the beneficiaries of the estate to act and the Court has the final say as to whether the nominated person is appropriate to act. Disputes amongst beneficiaries can occur when determining who should act as the administrator and practical difficulties can arise when beneficiaries are minors or lack capacity.
The Benefits of having a Will
A professionally drafted will is a relatively straightforward and inexpensive way of giving you peace of mind in knowing who will be administering your estate, that your estate will go to the right beneficiaries at the right time and be administered efficiently and in the best interests of your beneficiaries.
Making a Will means that you can:
- Nominate your executor and therefore determine who will be administering your estate and therefore reducing the risk of disputes and delays;
- Nominate the beneficiaries of your estate. This also means stating who will benefit from your estate if the beneficiaries of first choice are not alive to benefit;
- choose when beneficiaries become entitled to their share of your estate. The vast majority of people are not comfortable with the thought of their 18 year old child receiving their inheritance and often stipulate a later age. Not having a will means that beneficiaries are entitled to receive their inheritance at 18 years of age;
- appoint someone to act as the guardian of your minor children and giving you peace of mind in knowing that you have decided who will be caring for your young children if you are unable to do so;
- Put in place testamentary trusts for asset protection and tax purposes;
- Protect vulnerable and disabled beneficiaries;
- Give your executor and trustee wide ranging powers that will enable your estate to be administered in the best interests of your beneficiaries and in the most tax effective way possible.