Estate Planning is not just for the wealthy!

Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.  Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.

While each person’s situation varies, here are some reasons to have a will.

  1. You have a say about who will benefit from your estate. If you should die without a will, there is no guarantee that the people you would like to benefit from your hard work will benefit from your estate.  Having a will can minimize any family fights that may arise.
  2. The cost to settle your estate may be significantly more than if you had written a will at first instance.
  3. If you have minor children, a will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of them in the event of your death. your minor children.  Having a will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.
  4. De facto relationships.  If you die without a Will your de facto partner may not automatically be entitled to your estate
  5. Minimise estate taxes. A will which incorporates a testamentary trust may help minimise taxes.  Please ask and we can provide you with more information about the use of a testamentary trust.
  6. You decide who will handle your estate.  Because executors play the largest role in the administration of your estate, you will want to be sure the person who undertakes this role is honest, trustworthy, and organised.  Your executor does not have to be a family member.
  7. The cost to settle your estate may be significantly more than if you had written a will at first instance.
  8. You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit.   Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, in the absence of a Will, your estate may benefit someone you did not intend to benefit.

No matter the size, your estate will need to be administered and settled. This task would fall on either an executor nominated in your will or, if you died intestate, the role would be delegated to a next of kin (generally the individual who has the largest entitlement to the estate).

Updating your will

If you’ve previously made a will, there are some changes that where a will should be updated such as:

  • a major lifestyle or relationship change such as marriage or divorce e.g. a recent marriage will affect any previous wills made;
  • welcoming a child into your family. You can nominate a guardian for your minor children in case you die unexpectedly;
  • You have acquired property. If you have acquired property, you should review your will and consider if any changes are required.  For example, you should consider if your assets are held jointly or as tenants in common.  For property that is held jointly, the asset will automatically go to the joint owner and will not form part of your estate.