With the advent of COVID-19 aka “Coronavirus”, we now certainly live in uncertain times.
Coronavirus disease is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus which can spread from person to person. Of the 241,865 reported cases globally, Australia currently has 709 reported cases, 42 of which are in South Australia. What is concerning is that it has only been 73 days since the virus was first discovered.
People in their 50s make up the greatest proportion of confirmed cases. Statistically, older people are more at risk because of their weakened immune systems which make it harder to fight off disease and infection. Also, people of all ages with underlying health conditions or who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease are at a higher risk.
As a precautionary measure the advice of many authorities has been to stay at home as much as possible to avoid the virus spreading further in the community. The Government now appears to be implementing social distancing measures. Even the Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has recently advised Australians to think about every interaction they have with another person during the day.
Naturally, people will need to attend work and go shopping for necessities. One interaction which should also be considered as very important particularly for those older Australians or those with underlying chronic health conditions is to see your lawyer to draft a Will.
After working hard to build your assets, preparing a valid Will is critical to ensuring your assets and personal belongings will be distributed in accordance with your wishes following your death.
It pays to be reminded that if you don’t have a Will on your death the law will decide how your property or ‘estate’ will be divided. This could mean your estate be distributed to your nearest relatives, some of whom you may have had little or no contact with or are even estranged from.
You obviously don’t want to make things any more difficult than they need to be at such an uncertain time. By having a Will you can help to avoid costly and time-consuming processes like probate and unnecessary delay in finalising your estate. It can also help to avoid some or all of your assets being frozen for months before your beneficiaries receive their share.
Aside from the distribution of your estate, you can also specify in your Will who you want to care for your children and how you wish your remains to be dealt with ie. burial or cremation.
Making a will is important, simple and affordable. Having a lawyer draft your will ensures that it will meet the formal requirements of the Wills Act 1936 and reduce the possibility of it being contested.
A Will really is one of the single most important documents you can prepare in your lifetime and now is a most opportune time to do something about it.