Why do we need a will? People mainly use them to write down family members they want to provide for if they die, and how they want to distribute what they own. Wills also let us specify someone we would like to look after our kids or to leave special gifts and meaningful things to people or organisations we choose. They can include special instructions for a funeral, and they typically name the person who will carry out our wishes. If we don’t have one, or if ours is not valid for some reason, what we would like to happen may not happen in reality. This could put our families into legal and financial difficulties.
Don't have a will yet, or need to update a previous will? You can get one drafted by someone with experience, such as a lawyer or trustee company. A will must also be signed and witnessed. If the proper procedures are not followed, a will may not be valid.
Wills don’t have to be pricey. Some lawyers will even write one for free, so there’s no harm asking around.
Instructions in your will can include:
It's a good idea to set up enduring powers of attorney at the same time as making a will.
A will needs both an executor and a trustee. An executor obtains probate of your will from the court (when required) and the trustee carries out your wishes as set out in your will when we die.
Appointing a professional executor and trustee is often a good idea, particularly if the estate is large or complicated.
Some lawyers and professional trustee companies write wills for free, providing they are named as executor. They will charge your estate a fee for acting as the executor and trustee.
Whenever you go through a big life change like the birth of a child or separation, you should review your will.
For example, if you get married or enter a civil union your will is automatically revoked unless it states otherwise or specifically says that it was made with regard to the coming union.
Other life events like the birth of children or grandchildren, or the purchase of a property, are all good reasons to check your will.
Make sure to keep a copy of the will in a safe and accessible place – and let the executor and loved ones know where it is.
If your will can't be found, your last wishes can't be followed!
1. When you get married, the will you wrote before marriage is no longer valid.
2. If you die without a will, all your assets do not automatically go to your partner.
3. If you die without a will, the government will use a formula to divide up your assets.
4. The last will you signed – even if it’s out of date – will be the one used if you die.
5. Wills are not just about what you leave to people – they can also identify the person you want to look after our children.