We recommend that you review your will regularly or when something significant happens in life, like a house purchase, or marriage or children for example. We ensure copies of all signed Wills are stored electronically in a central location so they can be easily be found and updated if needed.
Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes you can cover all your wishes in a half page Will. We strive for simple solutions where it is possible.
Much of our time in preparing a complex Will is taken up with obtaining detailed instructions and advising on and preparing Wills that are tailor made to your situation.
We like to involve your other advisors, such as your accountant and/or financial planner, in the process where appropriate to ensure everyone is all ‘on the same page’. A complex Will can often include a testamentary trust for your spouse and/or children and deal with any entities in which you have an interest, such as a superannuation fund, discretionary trust, company etc.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
Without a current Will, there is no guarantee that your assets will be transferred on your death as you want. By leaving a current Will your wishes are known.
Without a Will, the state government’s legislation for distributing assets will apply. If you have no family as defined by that legislation, your assets will go to the government.
Executor under a Will – What are my duties?
As an executor under a Will, you will be responsible for the administration of the estate of the deceased and for the distribution of their assets to the beneficiaries under their Will.
The duties of an executor can include:
- attending to funeral arrangements
- identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate and whether or not the estate is solvent
- if required, applying for and obtaining a Grant of Probate
- preparing and executing the necessary documentation to access assets
- paying debts, expenses and duties
- preparing tax returns
- protecting business interests
- realising assets and transferring them to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will
- if required, the ongoing trusteeship of minor’s trusts and life tenancies
If you are an executor under a Will and we act for you in applying for the grant of Probate and administering the estate, we will give to you a copy of our comprehensive brochure about your duties as an executor.
Why should I use a lawyer to prepare my Will?
A lawyer will ensure that a Will is prepared to reflect what you want to happen after you die with the assets you own and also advise on other matters such as tax consequences of your will and any family provision claim concerns.
Wills can be very simple and also very complex and anything in between depending on your circumstances.
A well drafted Will can help with any of the following:
- assist in protecting your assets from a Family Court property order requiring your surviving spouse to transfer some of your property to your surviving spouse’s new spouse;
- protect your assets from a Supreme Court claim by your surviving spouse’s new spouse or the new spouse’s children/dependants if they contest your surviving spouse’s Will when they die;
- ensure that children your surviving spouse may have from a new relationship do not benefit from your assets;
- protect your assets if your surviving spouse becomes a bankrupt;
- give tax advantages to your surviving spouse and each child;
- give your surviving spouse and each child the option to access those tax advantages through a tax effective and flexible trust that comes into existence on your death;
- protect assets given to a child where the child becomes a bankrupt;
- protect assets given to a child where the child is later divorced;
- protect assets given to child where that child suffers a disability;
- protect assets given to child where that child has a problem, such as being a spend thrift, drugs or gambling;
- make an allowance for capital gains tax that may result from leaving a gift to a charity or non-resident child;
- make an allowance for capital gains tax that may result from leaving specific assets to nominated beneficiaries;
- leave your superannuation entitlements to the person you want to leave them to and possibly tax effectively to your spouse, minor children and inter dependents;
- align your life insurance policy beneficiaries with the gifts under your Will;
- prevent your spouse from changing their Will without reference to you and after your death, without reference to your children?
The points that mention a spouse can equally apply to a defacto relationship.