You’re Worth More Than You Think
If you ask your friends or colleagues, you’ll find that many don’t have a will. If you probe deeper, reasons why may include that they haven’t gotten around to it or that they don’t believe their assets are worth enough to pass on. Perhaps this is you…? If so, think again!
Using Your Will to Nominate a Guardian for Your Child
One of the most important aspects of creating a will is the ability to nominate a guardian for your child. Have the peace of mind that should the unexpected happen, you’ve done what you can to ensure your most precious treasure will be cared for according to your wishes.
A guardian is an adult nominated to be responsible for the care of your child in the event that both parents pass away before your child reaches adulthood. If for some other reason there are no parents who can fulfil the parenting role for the child, the guardian can step in.
Who is chosen is completely up to you. Consider it carefully with your partner before choosing the person or persons who would be most suitable for the task. This could be another family member or friend, ideally with your family’s values.
Consider All Your Assets
Along with nominating a guardian for your children and covering obvious assets such as your house and car, consider all the items of value that you may have forgotten. Don’t forget to include these in your will.
Determine the quantity and worth of belongings such as household contents, jewelry and antiques.
Another major asset that often gets overlooked is superannuation. After all, over your working life you have allocated a significant proportion of your income to your super. It therefore makes sense to consider how that would be allocated.
It’s surprising how the value of these things can add up. When you realise how much they’re worth, you might be prompted to think about what you’d like to happen to these items when you’re gone. In some cases, these assets are precious for reasons more than their monetary value. So, it’s nice to know they’ll be safe.
Secure it ALL in a Will
Even though most of us don’t like to think about it, it is important to have an up-to-date will.
While getting your life in order for the coming year, now is the perfect time to either create your first will or update a current will to make sure everything and everyone you want is included.
Milestones That Prompt Making a Will
Throughout life, we hit many milestones – sometimes these are the moments when you feel like you’ve really had to grow up! Often these points in life are also reasons to make or update your will. Think about how many of these milestones are familiar to you in recent times:
- Buying a large asset (first home)
- Getting married
- The birth of children
- Travelling overseas – for leisure or to live
- The death of a family member
- Divorce or separation – either your own or a family member’s
Many of these milestones have significant impact on our lives. As a result of these, it’s good to also think about the major impact on those you care about if you were to pass away without a will.
What if You Pass Away Without a Will?
If you pass away without a will, you will have ‘died intestate’. Without a will, a person’s estate is administered according to State Government legislation. If no immediate family can be found, it is possible that assets can be passed on to the Government.
If you’re in a relationship, have no children and don’t have a will, all your assets pass directly to your spouse or de facto partner. This means that other siblings and parents are overlooked, which is sometimes not what you may have intended.
If you have young children and both you and your partner pass away, the decision about who becomes your children’s guardian is left to the Family Court. This could mean that your children may be cared for by the closest family members, which may not be your preference.
Making a will ensures that you have control over how your belongings are distributed, who will benefit from them and who cares for your dependents.
Making or Updating a Will
Making your first will can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t need to be.
There are a number of options to record your final wishes. You can purchase a do-it-yourself kit or make an appointment with a professional will writer. The option that you choose will depend on your circumstances.
If your circumstances are simple – for example you’re making your first will, your assets are straightforward or you’ll leave your estate to one or two beneficiaries, a DIY will is suitable. You can buy these from some outlets or online from reputable sources, such as State Trustees’ online Will Kit. They’re an inexpensive and convenient option which can be easily and quickly completed without having to pay for legal advice. While will kits are created to be legally binding, make sure you follow the instructions closely to avoid making your will invalid with trivial errors.
If your circumstances are a little more complicated – it’s best to book an appointment with a professional will writer. This option would be suitable if your financial affairs are complicated, you are divorced, you are a company director, you have your own self-managed super fund, you have assets in different countries, or you have beneficiaries with special needs. A solicitor or a trustee company can provide this service.
State Trustees, who’ve written more wills than anyone else in Victoria, have will writers in a number of locations throughout Victoria. Find out more about consultative will appointments here.
Storing Your Will Safely
When created, your will becomes one of your most important assets! Therefore, you need to think about where and how you store it. Many people will store their will with the writer or at home, which is not the safest option, as you never know what might happen to these locations over your lifetime, and you cannot be certain that the will come into play when it is needed.
The safest option for peace of mind is a secure, purpose built facility, such as a will bank. Some States offer members of the community safe storage of their will. If you reside in Victoria, there is the Victorian Will Bank, which is managed by State Trustees, part of the Victorian Government. Storage is free for people who live in Victoria. It’s the simple, extra step so you will know that when the time comes, a true record of your wishes will be found.
Want to know more? Or perhaps book an appointment with a State Trustees will writer? Contact us on 03 9667 6444 or outside Melbourne, call 1300 138 672.