A will is one of, if not the most important legal document, you will sign in your lifetime. Your will documents your personal wishes, and provides clear instructions to your executor about how to distribute your personal assets in the event you pass away. Some terms commonly used in wills include:

Estate means all the property a person owns, which can include a house or monies and those items of sentimental value, such as jewellery or family heirlooms
Executor means the person or trustee company who will manage the administration of an estate
Beneficiaries means the people you leave your estate to (which also can include a charity)
Gift or bequest means the items a beneficiary receives from your estate

No-one wants to think about their own death and often people postpone having a will prepared leaving no plans in place for their estate. Preparing for the legal process that occurs after a death reduces the burden on your executor and family. By having a legally valid will prepared you can be provided with the comfort that:

  • – Directions have been made for your estate to be managed by the executor and assets distributed to your beneficiaries according to your wishes.
  • – Your will identifies your beneficiaries and serves to protect their interests from disagreements among those who expected to benefit from your estate.
  • – Subject to legal ownership, assets (whether of financial or sentimental value and wholly or in part) can be bequeathed to the right people or organisations e.g. a certain family member, children from previous relationships, friends and charities.
  • – If a grant of probate is required, your estate often can be settled quickly as a will can streamline the formal court process at a lesser cost to the estate.

If you do have a will and more than 5 years have passed since it was prepared, it is recommended you revisit your will.  Your will can also become outdated (in whole or in part) by way of the following events:

  • – a death of an executor or beneficiary
  • – marriage or divorce
  • – when minor children have entered into adulthood
  • – a change of family dynamics
  • – blended families
  • – buying or selling a home or a business
  • – a change the guardian of your minor children

If there is no Will
If someone has passed away intestate (without a will), no-one knows unconditionally your wishes as to who you wanted to appoint as an executor and nominate as your beneficiaries. When there is no will, estate assets will be distributed accordingly to “the rules of intestacy” which is the distribution of your estate to your next of kin in a manner and percentages determined by the government.

Common queries about wills

Can I have joint executors for my estate?
You can have joint executors

Can an executor also be a beneficiary of my estate?
Your executor can be, and commonly is also a beneficiary of an estate

Do you hold onto my will for safekeeping?
We hold onto wills in a secure location

No matter what size, how straightforward or complicated your estate is, a will can plan ahead and is an investment for the future of your beneficiaries.

If you have any queries relating to wills or to an estate, please feel free to contact Chelsea Jenkins in our office to make an appointment on 03 5975 7611.

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