If you have been procrastinating when it comes to making or updating your Will or ‘just too busy’ to worry about it, have you stopped to think about what might happen when you die?
Prioritising the management of your estate is an important step to planning your affairs during times of risk and uncertainty.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes when you die. Making a Will is a positive step you can take to provide for the people you care about.
In your Will, you can appoint a guardian for minor children, leave particular items to certain people, leave wishes or instructions about your funeral arrangements, make gifts to charities or churches and provide for spouses, partners, friends and people who are not related to you.
You can also give away company shares that you own, and you may be able to exercise powers of appointment of a family trust.
After your death, your property and belongings are referred to as your estate.
Who can make a Will?
Anyone over 18 can make a Will as long as they have mental capacity. A person with a mild intellectual disability or in the early stages of dementia may still be able to make a Will if they have capacity at the time the Will is made.
Who should I appoint as my executor?
The executor is the person named in your Will who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will and dealing with your estate after you die. This should be someone over 18 years old whom you trust and would be prepared to take on this responsibility.
You can appoint a professional, such as the State Trustees or a solicitor, however fees apply.
Why should I make a Will?
If you die without a Will, you do not have a say about how your estate is to be distributed. Your estate will be distributed to your relatives according to a legal formula (called the ‘intestacy rules’) which could be very different from what you wanted or intended to happen.
How long will my Will last?
Wills should be reviewed when there are significant changes in your assets, or changes to your beneficiaries.
Your Will lasts until you die, unless you change it, make a new one or revoke (cancel) it. A marriage will also revoke a Will unless the Will was made anticipating that marriage. If you plan to marry or divorce you may need to review your Will and update, as necessary.
Can I change my Will if I change my mind?
You can change your Will at any time as long as you have mental capacity. You cannot change your Will by crossing out something and initialing it or writing something different in its place as there are formal requirements that must be followed.
How do I make a Will during COVID-19?
We are continuing to assist our clients with the preparation of their estate planning documents during the current COVID-19 restrictions. At first instance, we encourage all clients to provide instructions by telephone or videoconference.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you with your estate planning needs and provide advice and assistance related to making a Will during the COVID-19 pandemic.