There are 2 certainties in life; taxes and death. Grim? Yes. Inevitable? … also yes.
And when it comes to life admin, ironically, creating a will is one of the most important things you should tick off your list. It is an opportunity for you to prepare for your death and make things a little easier for your loved ones after you’re gone.
However, beyond the odd Law & Order reference, surprisingly little is known about wills and what they do (or more scarily, don’t do if absent). Michael Spiegel, Executive General Manager of Trustee Services at State Trustees, lays out some of the basics to assist you in helping the ones you love in what will be one of the toughest times of their lives.
As for taxes, well that’s a whole other story…
So, what is a will?
A will is a legal document that communicates what you want to happen to your assets, otherwise known as your estate, when you die. It essentially acts as your voice after you’ve gone, and can ensure that your assets are protected.
Why do I need one?
If you die without a will, you die intestate. This means that State Intestacy Law will determine how your estate is to be managed and distributed.
Usually, if you die without a will, your assets will be given to your legal partner or children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your assets will go to your ‘next of kin’ – your closest relative.
However, this means that you don’t have a say about who will benefit from your estate, or who is charged with the role of administering and making final decisions. Your estate may also take an extended period of time to settle (more than 12 months), and the cost to settle it may be significantly more than if you had written a will at first instance.
Not only is having a will a good way to give yourself peace of mind that your final wishes will be understood, it is also a way to give your loved ones reassurance.
When should I create a will?
Anyone over the age of 18 years who is in a sound state of mind can create a will. As soon as you have assets of your own, you should create a will. This includes bank accounts, investments, superannuation, property, personal items with emotional value like jewellery – even pets!
Having a child is another good reason to create a will, so you can appoint a guardian and outline any wishes for how they should be brought up.
Finally, if you’ve started a business with someone, or made an investment with a business partner, you can use your will to make sure that person is looked after even if you die unexpectedly.
State Trustees offer a diverse range of will product to fit your needs. If your situation is straightforward, an online will is a create solution. If your circumstances are a little more complex, like a previous marriage, than you might be more suited for a consultation with a Will Writer.
Can I update my will?
Absolutely. You should update your will whenever your life changes, including any major asset acquisitions or disposals, the birth of a child, a new marriage or a divorce. This also extends to your beneficiaries. If any beneficiary named in your will has died or you want to change beneficiaries, you should update your will.
It’s a good idea to review your will when there have been significant events in your life, or every two to three years, to ensure it still meets your requirements.
From June 21 – July 31, State Trustees is offering 30 per cent off all their Online Wills. For more information on State Trustees and their Will products, click here.