Many people underestimate the importance of a legal Will. You should make a Will even if you think you have little to leave behind. Without a Will, your estate will be distributed using a fixed formula determined by the government, and it may not be how you would have chosen to divide your assets. 

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that sets out how your property and wealth are to be divided after your death. It is important that you consider your Will very carefully. Under your Will, an executor must be appointed to look after your estate. The executor must be someone you can trust to collect your assets, pay all your debts and distribute your estate in accordance with your Will. 

Why should I make a Will?

Making a Will lets you have the final say on how you want to divide your estate between your family, loved ones and causes you care about. You also get to appoint who you wish to administer your estate, as well as indicate your preference on your children’s legal guardian.
Without a legal Will, additional fees and taxes are charged to your estate and your loved ones end up receiving less. The prolonged red tape could also be a financial burden to your family. These are all avoidable with a Will in place.

What are my options?

A Standard Will
The most common Will option suitable for most situations, a standard Will provides for standard estate distribution according to the following:

• All of your estate goes to your spouse or partner. 
• If your spouse is deceased, specific gifts are distributed to nominated beneficiaries, and the rest shared equally among your children. 
• If your children are also deceased, the grandchildren become the beneficiaries.
• If there are no children or grandchildren, the estate is equally shared among any living siblings and sibling-in-laws. Your nephews and nieces, if any, become the beneficiaries if siblings too, are deceased.

Non-Standard Will
A non-standard Will is a standard will with the inclusion of non-standard distributions, and/or clauses drafted to address particular circumstances, such as blended families, business ownership or trust funds.

Testamentary Trust
Designed to provide maximum flexibility and tax-effective distribution of capital and income, a Testamentary Trust may allow your beneficiaries to qualify for aged, disability and sole parent pensions, Austudy or other assistance, for which they may not under a normal inheritance. Your beneficiaries may also be protected from third parties, such as creditors.

Your financial advisor can assist your executors determine how best to manage your estate for the benefit of your beneficiaries, taking into account risk management, taxation and other issues.

Ensure that your Will is valid

From state to state, laws governing the requirements for a legal Will may vary, but they share a few in common, for example:

• You must be over 18 years old and understand what you are doing
• Specific wishes must be made in writing
• The document must be signed in the presence of two witnesses

For most people, preparing your own legal Will is a simple and easy process. You can even do it online in the comfort of your own home or office. For those with unique circumstances, speak to your financial advisor and family lawyer about a legal Will today.

Once you’ve locked in your wishes, which may or may not include your funeral plans, keep all your information in one place with our free Personal and Family Profile Booklet. You can call us on 1800 804 731 if you would like a hard copy mailed to you or download from our website