A Will allows you to decide whom to leave your property to after death (“the estate”) in the proportions you see fit, for example you can:
- Give property to one or more persons.
- Give money to one or more persons.
- Provide for your young children.
- Appoint a guardian for your young children.
- Create a trust to protect children with drug or gambling problems.
- Create a trust for children with disabilities.
- Not provide for a child who has behaved improperly towards you.
- Provide for your pets.
- Establish a charitable foundation.
What if I don’t have a Will?
If a person dies without a Will their estate is governed by the State inheritance laws, this is called dying “intestate”. This may result in your property being given to people and in amounts that you would not choose. The rules of inheritance are very restrictive and open to minimal interpretation. There are several disadvantages to intestacy, including but not limited to:
- A $220 fee payable to the Public Trustee and additional legal costs for reporting to the Public Trustee.
- If any of your beneficiaries are children under 18, their share will be held by the Public Trustee and the beneficiary’s ultimate entitlement will be diminished by their fees.
- No choice as to who receives your estate and it may go against your wishes.
- There may be confusion or disagreements over who applies for Administration, and until Administration is granted it will be difficult to deal with property, banks, share registries and other financial institutions, which may again create additional undesired expense.
- A search must be conducted to see if there was a Will, again creating an additional expense if your family may be unsure whether or not you had a Will.
- If you have no family members eligible, or if eligible beneficiaries cannot be found (particularly if they are overseas) your estate could return to the State.
- As well as allowing you to decide on how your property is distributed after your death a Will and an experienced lawyer are able to assist you in better protecting your estate from a challenge by a person capable of making a claim against your estate.
What does a Will cost?
If you wish to take steps to protect your estate, then our solicitors are able to assist with your estate planning needs, and to ensure that your Will accurately reflects your wishes. A simple Will may only be two pages, while complex Wills incorporating testamentary trusts can be 20 or more pages. Wills start from as low as $330 including GST for a simple document. There are also package options available for those wanting a Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive starting from $550 including GST. This includes one meeting with a Solicitor who specialises in this area, the preparation of the documents and then one meeting with you to sign the documents.
This article is general in nature and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. If you are considering a Will and you wish to speak with a Wills and Estates lawyer, please contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your particular circumstances and give personal legal advice accordingly.