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Why a Will is Essential

Posted by Taryn Ellerington | 01 June 2020 | Estate Planning

“I don’t need a Will – I am young and I don’t own anything!”

I often hear this from young people and it worries me because it just isn’t right. Particularly considering current world events, I feel compelled to take a moment to set the record straight.

If you are over the age of 18, you need a Will and here are the reasons why:

Reason 1:  It isn’t just about what you own now

Firstly, if you think about it you probably have more assets than you realise, such as superannuation or your carbon mountain bike but that is not the point – it’s about what you own in the future.    

Even if you own very little now, a Will captures your new motorbike in 2 years’ time, the signed footy jersey, your first car and even the first house that you buy. What about the unexpected inheritance or lottery win – who is going to get that if you don’t have a Will?

A Will captures everything you have now and into the future and lets you say who gets what and who you want to manage all this. It may be great to think of these things after the event but even better to have all your future property sorted in case you get hit by a bus and can’t remember a thing.

Reason 2:  You are not bulletproof – by the time something happens, it may be too late

In many ways, a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Guardianship Appointment are the most important documents of your life, especially if you intend to travel or do risky things (like quad biking around sand dunes, or just simply crossing the road)…

A Will protects all of your current and future assets and tells people what you want, who you want to get what you own and who you trust to make that happen.

Don’t assume you will be able to make a Will at any time in the future.  A sudden loss of capacity due to illness or accident can make it harder if not impossible to get a Will made.

Your Will communicates your wishes and can tell people what your views are on organ donation, the location of your burial and the type of service you would like. It can also contain a direction for consideration by the trustee of your super fund as to where you wish your superannuation death benefits to be paid. Importantly, if you are a parent, a Will can say who you wish to be the guardian of your children and can include directions as to their upbringing.

Don’t leave such important matters in the hands of others to decide.

Reason 3:  Without it, you will likely create a nightmare of bureaucracy and costs for your loved ones who are left behind

If you die without a Will, an application may need to be made by your next of kin to the Supreme Court in order to manage your affairs. This process can be complex, time-consuming and expensive.

You can also imagine the costly disputes that can arise as to entitlement especially in cases of blended families.  No one wants to see their hard-earned assets squandered on lawyers.

Reason 4:  Do you want to see your assets in the hands of people you don’t like (or even the state)?

Dying without a Will is called “dying intestate”. If you die intestate it is not always clear who gets your assets and those with an agenda can try to make a claim on your estate which can result in a very nasty and expensive Court case. In many instances, the Court may even order that the legal costs are paid from your estate.  Maybe you want your brother to have your television. Maybe you hate your brother and want it to go to your best friend. Either way, help to prevent the drama by saying what you want in your Will.

The point is, without a Will, you are creating a ‘free for all’. Anyone with a provable link to you can try to make a claim on your assets, whether that is what you would have wanted or not, and the Court will decide between competing claims. Imagine having your family squabbling amongst themselves because they all truly believe you want them to have that painting of the dogs playing cards.

Importantly, if you die intestate without eligible relatives, then everything you own may pass to the State.  Even more reason to ensure your television goes to your best friend.

Reason 5:  It is easy to make a will and we can help

So, what does this all mean and how do you go about getting a Will? We recommend speaking to an experienced estates lawyer and they can guide you through the process to make a simple Will.

It can be quick and cheap if you stick to the basics, and maybe your parents will even help you get it sorted – the last thing they want is to see you die intestate, or have no powers in place to help manage your affairs if you are incapacitated.

If you have a job, if you have superannuation, if you care about someone and their welfare, if you want to give someone something special of yours or if you just don’t want to risk everything you own going to people you don’t like, then get a Will.

While it may not matter to you after you are gone, it will certainly affect the people you care about.

I hope you find this information helpful and you are welcome you to call our Estate Planning team on (02) 9016 0141 if you have any questions or you would like to get started on making a simple Will.

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