Our Top Tips for Preparing a Will Online
23 Feb 2023
Your will is your voice after you’re gone. Yet 53% of us don’t have a valid will in place*. So, if you’ve decided to finally get it this task ticked off, you’re in the right place. A well written and up to date will is essential because it is the best way to ensure that your assets go where you intend them to after you pass away. It will help you ensure that you provide for the right people in your life and that you have left clear instructions for your wishes in how your assets are distributed.
Making your will yourself is possible, but without guidance, it can feel like a daunting task. This article provides you with important tips that should help you make the process easy and ensure you consider everything you need to.
Preparing a simple will online
Your will is your voice when you’re gone. It tells people what you want to have happen to your assets. The clearer your instructions, the easier it is for the people you leave behind. The trick is to break it down into steps. The good news is, that we have done this for you in the State Trustees Online Will., where we guide you through each section to make it easy.
Your assets, beneficiaries, and any instructions you have, can all appear overwhelming until you give yourself the space to tackle them one- by- one. Here are some of the bigger points you should be considering when writing your will.
Working out your assets
The first step is to establish what assets you have and build yourself a complete picture.
What savings do you have? What investments or property do you own? Do you have a clear idea of their value? Asking these questions will give you the clarity you need to ensure that you’re making informed decisions with what you have. You can utilise our very handy Asset List Template for Wills to categorise what you own ahead of beginning your will.
Anything not specifically mentioned in your will forms part of your residuary estate (the part that is left over) and will be given to those you name as beneficiaries in the residuary clause of your Will. As a result of this clause, it is important to think about all of your assets and whether you want to leave specific gifts or money to people or organisations such as charities.
Beneficiary is the official term for those who are named as recipients in your will. They can be a person, a group of people and even an organisation. When naming your beneficiaries, it is vital that you are as clear as possible. Use full legal names, describe the assets attributed to them in detail, and eliminate any potential uncertainty by including correct details in your will.
You can also leave specific gifts to one or more beneficiaries in your will. For example, if you want to give one of your properties to your son as a gift, you need to name the property by full address and name the beneficiary by their full legal name.
There is no need to include this detail for your life insurance since your life insurance provider will have asked you to name a beneficiary when you set up the policy. So this aspect will already have been handled.
For anything left over, you can name residuary beneficiaries. This is the person, or people, who will receive anything that is left over after specific gifts are given.
Choosing an executor
The executor is the individual/s or organisation who will carry out the wishes you lay out for the distribution of your estate as detailed in your will. You’ll need to appoint your executor, and you can name more than one. This will sometimes be best in cases where the task load is heavy. The executor you appoint will handle the distribution of assets, the payment of remaining bills or debts, and is otherwise tasked with carrying out your will.
Use the full legal names for the executor/s you appoint and ensure that you let them know that you have chosen them to be the executor of your will. You may wish to name more than one person as a precaution against the possibility that you outlive your first choice of executor, or that your first choice is unable to take the task on when the time comes.
Choosing a guardian for minor children
You can formally appoint a guardian in your will if you have minor children. It is very important to discuss your intentions, obtain consent and discuss your expectations with the prospective guardian. During this discussion, it’s also a good idea to share the set of guidelines that you have prepared. Our Child Guardianship Checklist will help you prepare these guidelines.
Deciding how pets will be cared for
They might be your best friend, but a pet is considered property under the law., That means you can make provision for their care when you pass away by gifting your pet to a carefully chosen carer in your will. You can also leave a gift of money that the prospective carer can use to look after your pet. While this choice, or ‘nomination’, is not legally binding, having it in your will means that everyone knows exactly what you wanted for your pet. It’s also an excellent idea to prepare a separate document to provide information about your pet and your wishes as there are so many things to consider when making provisions for a pet.
Printing and signing
When you have prepared your will online, it’s absolutely essential that you get the last stages right. Print a copy of your completed will and sign it yourself in front of two witnesses. These two witnesses need to be over 18 years of age and will be required to provide their signature as well.
If possible, it is always better to have two witnesses who aren’t beneficiaries, due to different state State requirements. In some States, witnesses cannot also be beneficiaries. This is a rule designed to prevent coercion or fraud.
The final step is to keep the will in a safe place. Ensure that a beneficiary or the executor knows where and how to access your will. The Victorian Will and Powers of Attorney Registry is an initiative offered by State Trustees. It is a safe place to store your Will and Powers of Attorney documents. It is free for anyone who lives in Victoria. You can also register the location of your will if you don’t wish to store it physically.
Preparing your will online with State Trustees
State Trustees is an organisation that assists people in protecting their legacy and their financial wellbeing. Our Online Will is designed to make preparing simple wills quick and easy. If you’re an Australian living outside Victoria, you can still access our Online Will and write your own valid will on our online platform, which is backed by over 80 years of experience.
Our Online Will platform is designed for simple circumstances. If this is you, start today.
*source: 2022 quantum research
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