Studies have shown that about 45% of Australians do not have a valid will.
We spend hundreds sometimes thousands of dollars on servicing our motor vehicles, retaining tax agents to prepare our tax returns and taking out insurance policies to cover against fire and theft. Some would perhaps cringe at the idea of spending a few hundred dollars to have a lawyer to draft a will. And why would you retain a lawyer when you can buy a DIY will kit for about $30 at your local post office? Some of us simply put it off until later..
Sadly, in Australia there is no requirement to make a will. If you don’t have a will on your death the law will decide how your property or ‘estate’ will be divided. Well that might not sound so bad?
Assuming you were to die ‘intestate’ (ie. leaving no will) your property will likely be distributed to your nearest relatives.It could be paid to relatives that you have little or no contact with or are even estranged from. It is likely to cause considerable expense and unnecessary delay in finalising your estate.In fact, some or all of your assets could be frozen for months before your beneficiaries receive their share.
Further, your beneficiaries will have no idea as to who you wanted to care for your children, or how you wish your remains to be dealt with ie burial or cremation.
Making a will is important, simple and affordable. A small monetary outlay now could avoid a myriad of problems and expense later on.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.
It is also important to keep in mind that a lawyer will consider the broader context of your general affairs and circumstances such as your assets, superannuation including self-managed funds, any applicable family trusts, and guardianship issues. Assets can be held personally, jointly or in a trust, superannuation fund or company and a lawyer will properly consider same before giving you advice about the most practical, tax-effective and flexible options available to you.
A will really is one of the single most important documents you can prepare in your lifetime.