Writing a Will involves a lot of thought and consideration. You need to ensure that your Will accurately reflects how you’d like to deal with important assets and document requests.
Whether you’re creating a Will yourself or seeking help from a professional Will writer, you should consider our guide below when preparing your Will.
It would be useful for you to list down the approximate value of each of your assets and put them into categories. You should also jot down any mortgages and loans.
For any significant assets (for example a property or car), you should identify whether you own them independently or with someone else. There are two ways you can share ownership with someone else for real estate. For an item that is ‘jointly owned’, the surviving owner will obtain the property as soon as you pass away. This jointly owned asset will not become part of your Will. However, if an item is owned as ‘tenants in common’, the portion of the property that you own can be dealt with in your Will.
It is also crucial to know where your certificate of title for your house is. This is because lost or missing titles are time-consuming and expensive to replace after someone dies. A certificate of title can often be sorted at the bank or at your home.
2. Appointing an executor
An organisation or person appointed by you to carry out the final wishes outlined in your Will is your executor. Your executor becomes responsible for managing your estate when you pass away. An executor will need to be responsible enough and also have the time to fulfil their role.
If appointing an individual, it is a good idea to choose someone who is a named beneficiary of the estate. Fulfilling the responsibilities of an executor can be difficult for someone that does not have an interest in the estate.
In some cases, you may find no one suitable for the role, or there is a risk of family conflict and it is not possible to nominate someone neutral to take on the role. This is when you should consider nominating State Trustees as your executor. However, an independent executor service is not free. This means you need to understand the fees and charges that will be paid out of your estate. Although a State Trustee executor comes at a cost, it will provide peace of mind for your loved ones when you pass away.
3. Making a bequest or giving to charities
If a testator wants to acknowledge organisations that have assisted them or their family members during their lifetime, they can include charities as beneficiaries in Wills.
For example, by providing the Australian Business Number (ABN) of a specific hospital, you can identify and nominate that hospital. Failing to do this can result in problems as to which hospital you really wanted to benefit. Therefore, providing the ABN will make the job of your executor much easier when they begin the task of administering the estate.
If you intend to make a bequest, decide which specific charity (or charities) you would like to benefit. You should also bring any relevant literature regarding the charity to your Will appointment so that it is easier to identify and include in your Will. For even more clarity, you can contact your charity prior to your appointment to ensure you are benefitting the correct charity.
4. Managing complex circumstances
Your Will can be customised to accommodate the specific circumstances and complexities of your life. The easiest way to carry this out is to contemplate, consult and talk through the circumstances with a professional Will writer or a DF Legal solicitor.
Circumstances that are deemed complex include:
You should ensure that you explain these specific circumstances to the writer of your Will. This information could be kept on file and referred to if there is a claim made against your estate.
It is highly recommended that you get advice from a specialist Will writer if your circumstances are complicated, so that your requests are correctly dealt with.
5. Enduring powers of attorney
You should consider preparing your powers of attorney when making your Will. Having an enduring power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you when you can not make decisions on your own. The responsibility is allocated to another trusted person that you chose, to make decisions on your behalf. This could mean managing your financial matters or making some personal decisions for you.
If you have any questions about preparing for your Will appointment or writing a Will, DF Legal is here to help. Phone us on (02) 9774 3175.
DF Legal is a boutique law firm with over 15 years of combined experience practicing in a wide range of areas including Property Law and Conveyancing, Commercial Law, Wills, and Estate Planning, Franchise Law, Building Disputes, Commercial and Retail Leasing, and more.
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