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Your gifts and your will

04 December 2023

Guide Charitable Giving

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

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 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.

Naming beneficiaries

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.

Interested in giving? Learn more about Philanthropy and Charitable Giving

Useful resources

Guide

Will writing guide

Read more
Checklist

Executor checklist

Read more
Guide

8 reasons to update your will

Read more

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Original artwork ‘Four Sisters Coming Together’ by Melissa Bell 2023