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Your gifts and your will

16 Nov 2016

Your gifts and your will

A will is a legal document that helps ensure your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes. One of the many things you need to know before you make a will is what can you give away, or bequest, in your will.

You can only give away assets (i.e. real estate and personal property) that you own. If you do not gift an asset, it will form part of your residuary estate. Your residuary estate is what is left of your property and possessions after funeral and administration expenses, debts and other liabilities have been paid and specific gifts have been distributed.

You can gift

  • the whole property – if you are the sole owner of a property
  • the portion or percentage of the property owned by you – if you own property as ‘tenants in common’

Other items that you can gift include:

  • personal jewellery;
  • motor vehicles;
  • artwork;
  • household possessions e.g. furniture;
  • family heirlooms; and
  • money in your bank account.

It might also be helpful for you to jot down an approximate value of each asset and whether there is a mortgage or loan.

If you have an outstanding mortgage when you die, the mortgage generally still needs to be paid by your estate. However, this is dependent on a number of factors including: the loan contract, the type of property ownership, the terms of your mortgage insurance (if any) or the terms of your will.

The executor of your estate is required to settle all of your outstanding debts and expenses (including funeral expenses) out of the assets of your estate.

Avoiding conflicts

Leaving gifts in your will is something to carefully consider. You can leave your assets to any individual or organisation of your choice, however it is important to adequately provide for your family and dependents to avoid conflicts after your death.

You can avoid potential conflicts about who is to receive gifts after your death by speaking with your loved ones ahead of time about your wishes and reasons for leaving gifts to specific people.

If you are planning to write your will, we can help. State Trustees writes more wills that any other organisation in Victoria. Speak with one of our expert will writers today.

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