Why do I need a Will? (Jump to top)
In essence, you need a will so that you can have control over:
What happens to your assets after your death
Who is responsible to look after any children under 18
Who is in charge of handling the distribution of your assets (your Executor)
Recording your wishes in a Will cuts down on the disputes and stress which only add to an already difficult situation for the family of someone who’s passed away.
Also, having a professional Will usually means your estate will be finalised in a shorter period of time.
What can happen if I don’t have a Will in place? (Jump to top)
Here are just a few examples:
Relatives will probably spend months looking for a non-existent Will. This delay is unfortunate especially when it would be easily avoidable.
You may be surprised to know that if someone dies without a will and their Estate is worth more than $100,000, their assets will automatically be divided between their spouse and children, even if the children are under 18. Many assume that the spouse ‘gets the lot’, but this is not the case once children enter the picture.
On the other hand, if there are no children, the spouse or de facto partner will indeed be the sole beneficiary by default… this can be a big problem for anyone who is separated but not divorced and doesn’t want their estate to be left to their ex-spouse.
If there are children under 18, the Public Trustee will hold on to their inheritance on their behalf… and charge fees for doing so. This money is paid to the child as a lump sum once they reach the age of 18. Many parents nowadays do not feel that 18 is an ideal age to inherit that kind of money.
Also, with no legal Guardian appointed in a will, any minor children may not end up being cared for by the person you would have chosen. Family members will have to apply to the Court for guardianship.
Since there will not be an Executor appointed, your family will also have to apply to the Court for “Letters of Administration” to be entitled to deal with your assets. This can be quite an involved and complicated process.
You won’t get an opportunity to support a charity, a volunteer organisation, or a close friend through your Estate, if you had wished to do so.
What are the different components of a Will, and do I need all of them?(Jump to top)
Most or all Wills will include:
Appointment of an Executor(s) to manage the deceased estate
Nomination of beneficiaries, and alternative beneficiaries if the main beneficiaries don’t outlive the Willmaker (‘Testator’)
Basic directions for distribution of household items and personal effects
Directions for distribution of superannuation money or death benefits
Wishes regarding burial or cremation, and other specific requests for funeral arrangements
However, this will not be enough to cater for every individual. We offer various types of Will beyond ‘the basics’. Depending on your circumstances, you may fall under one of the following categories:
Once children enter the picture, provisions have to be made in the Will for them. These may include setting up trust funds, appointing guardians and providing directions for care of children.
The tailored Will provides for clients with small businesses, complicated family situations (for example blended families or estranged relations) or other circumstances which require specific provisions such as the need for a right of occupancy in a family home.
In some cases, a Will concerns much more than just the individual’s assets and wishes. Clients with substantial assets, Self Managed Super Funds, Companies and Family Trusts require Wills that elaborate on these items.
Many clients will also choose to set up a Testamentary Trust (or Trusts) for long-term tax savings and improved asset protection for their family.
How is my Will implemented? (Jump to top)
This is the job of the Executor, who you appoint in the Will itself. The Executor is responsible for taking over control of all your assets, handling funeral arrangements, applying for Probate (where required), paying your debts, and distributing all remaining assets to your beneficiaries exactly as you directed in your Will. Read more about Probate here.
Can my Will be changed after I have passed away? (Jump to top)
A will (when properly prepared and executed) is a legally binding document which is difficult to successfully challenge. The only way a Will can be challenged is through an application to the Supreme Court, and there are strict limits on who can apply and in what circumstances.
This is one reason it is so important to have professional advice about your situation. Katrina can help you identify any of your intentions that could be a cause for dispute, and work out ways to reduce the risk of a successful challenge.
How much does it cost? (Jump to top)
We cater for all types of Wills, from basic Wills to very advanced ones; accordingly, the fees vary considerably, and are tailored to your own requirements. We will discuss fees with you on a no obligation basis before we go ahead with the work.
It’s worth bearing in mind that having a professionally drafted Will often results in your beneficiaries receiving a greater benefit overall from your Estate, with less tax to pay. Katrina Jacobs has in-depth knowledge of taxation, superannuation and other relevant areas that will allow her to help get the best result for your family.
For a copy of our Fee Guide and a Will Instruction Questionnaire on a no-obligation basis, please email us.
How do I get started? (Jump to top)
The first step is to get in touch with us! We try to make the process as straightforward as possible.
You can call or email to request a Will Instruction Questionnaire and a Fee Guide, and book a no-obligation initial appointment.
To complete the questionnaire, you will need to have the basic details of your assets – such as investments, superannuation, life insurance, and so forth – and the details of any beneficiaries or potential Executors. Then at the appointment we can discuss your needs further and, if you wish to proceed, agree on a fixed fee for the work.