Having a clearly written and up-to-date will is important as it:
- allows you to say who you want to administer your estate;
- helps ensure your property and possessions are distributed the way you want;
- sets out who you want to benefit from your estate;
- allows you to nominate a guardian for any minor children you may have;
- reduces potential conflict after your death;
- helps your executor understand how you would like your affairs managed; and
- helps to enable your estate to be settled quickly.
If you are over 18 years of age and have capacity (meaning you have the mental ability to know and understand what you are doing and why), you can make a will. You can also make a will if you are under 18 years of age and are either married (or previously married), or have the consent of the court.
If you do not have a will, State and Territory laws say who will benefit from your estate. This is done by using a formula set out in the relevant legislation. It can mean your property and possessions might not be distributed as you would have wanted and you would not have a say in who should be the guardian of any minor children you have.
The State Trustees Legal Will Kit helps you prepare your own will according to your wishes. It is intended for use in simple and straightforward circumstances. For example, where you intend to leave everything you own to surviving members of your immediate family, such as your partner and/or your children, or extended family or friends. It also allows you to nominate a guardian for any minor children you may have.
The kit is unsuitable for you if you:
- have any beneficiaries with special needs, e.g. beneficiaries with disabilities;
- are proposing to leave someone out of your will who expects to benefit;
- want to include a trust of any kind in your will;
- have complex assets, e.g. an extensive share portfolio or overseas property;
have an interest in a family trust, private company, self-managed superannuation fund or partnership;
- plan to use the kit to assist a visually impaired person or someone who cannot read or write English.
If any of these circumstances apply to you or you are unsure about how to proceed, you must seek the assistance of a legal or will writing professional.
Yes it is. Providing you carefully follow the instructions in the kit for completing your will, it will be valid.
You will have to print out the will form in the kit in order to complete the will. The will form in the kit has fields you need to fill in, either by typing text into the spaces provided on the electronic version (before you print out the form), or by handwriting the text legibly on a printed out version. You can fill in the details in the will yourself or have someone else to fill in the details in the will on your behalf. No matter who helps you write your will, you yourself must sign it. Make sure all handwriting is legible.
Your signature must be witnessed by two witnesses, both of whom must be at least 18 years old. You and your two witnesses must be present at the same time and watch each other sign the will. Your witnesses should not be beneficiaries named in the will, nor the spouse or domestic partner of a beneficiary.
You can update your will at any time so long as you have mental capacity to know and understand what you are doing and why. Do not make changes on your original will: we recommend you make a new will, signed and witnessed in the required way, to replace the previous will.
It’s a good idea to review your will when there have been significant events in your life, or every two to three years, to ensure it still meets your requirements. For example, you should make a new will if:
- you want to change the beneficiaries in your will;
- any beneficiary named in your will has died;
- you marry, separate, divorce, enter into a new relationship, or re-marry;
- you acquire or dispose of any substantial property or possessions during your lifetime;
- you have a child; or
- you would like to change the person identified as the executor of your will or the person you proposed to be the guardian of your minor children.
No you cannot have a joint will, you must each have a separate will.
Yes, you may purchase the kit on behalf of someone else.
A will can be revoked (cancelled) by the person who made the will, if they have capacity to do so. There are a number of ways to revoke a will including by making a written declaration executed in the same manner as a will is required to be executed or by destroying the will with the intention of revoking it. In some cases, marriage or divorce will also revoke a will. Generally, the most recent will revokes an earlier will. It is usual to include a statement in a will revoking all previous wills. This ensure there is no conflict about which will applies.
The choice of executor is extremely important. The kit contains information on the choice and role of an executor to assist you in making your appointment decision.
If you need further assistance, we recommend you contact a will writing professional. If you live in Victoria you can contact State Trustees on (03) 9667 6444, or 1300 138 672 from outside Melbourne, to discuss your specific needs. Or you can register for a face-to-face appointment to write your will with a will writing professional using our online booking form.
If you live outside Victoria, you can contact your local public trustee office, the contact details for which are available on the relevant website listed below:
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