Lots of people are confused about Wills – what they actually do, whether they need one, and what they need to think about when deciding what it should say.
When someone dies without a Will they are ‘intestate’. That means your assets will still be distributed, but only to certain people in accordance with the formula set out in legislation. This formula may not reflect what you wish to happen to your estate.
Even when people make a Will problems can arise if it’s not done in a way that works for that person’s situation. That includes how potential disputes between family members can be anticipated and prevented and how different structures may impact beneficiaries after your death.
We work with you to provide a will that works for you. That way, you have the final say on how and to whom your estate is distributed.
We can also help you include a Testamentary Trust and prepare Powers of Attorney. To find out more about that click here
It depends on what you want to happen after you die. If you do not have a will, the distribution of your estate is governed by the rules of intestacy. In Victoria, those rules are found in the Administration and Probate Act 1958. Who gets what depends on your circumstances including whether you have a partner, whether you have children and whether those children have received other property from you.
If you have a will, the distribution of your estate is governed by the terms of your will.
Again, it depends. If you want the safety and security of knowing that your will is going to be effective and distribute your estate according to your intentions, then it is recommended that you retain the services of a professional to draft the necessary documents. But an estate plan is more than a will. You also need to consider a power of attorney, your superannuation death benefits and insurance. Do-it-yourself will kits do not provide a comprehensive estate plan. If the wording of your will is not clear (and bear in mind this is a very technical area where the words you use may be interpreted by a court to mean something other than what you actually intended), it could cost your estate thousands of dollars in legal fees to obtain a ruling from the Court on the true meaning of the will.
In addition, some of your assets may not fall into your estate on your death and your will may not reflect your true intent. Joint assets, assets in a family or discretionary trust, life interests, pensions, annuities and superannuation proceeds may not form part of your estate depending on circumstances. A solicitor experienced in estate planning will be able to give you advice on which assets will fall into your estate.
Major life changes such as entering into marriage or a de facto relationship, separating, divorcing or retiring may all necessitate changes to your existing will. Changes in the relationships of your children is another important consideration. Marriage always cancels any previous will unless that will specifically states that it is made in contemplation of the marriage. Separation or divorce does not cancel your will but divorce will, in most circumstances, cancel any gifts to your former spouse. There is no need to change your will simply because you change your address, although you should notify whoever is holding your original will of your new address.
There are no death duties in Australia. However, capital gains tax may be payable by your estate on the transfer of title of assets with a CGT liability. It is advisable to consult a solicitor experienced in estate administration before you dispose of major assets in an estate.
It is a document issued by the Supreme Court proving your last will, thus empowering your executors to carry out the terms of your will.
In Victoria, the Administration and Probate Act 1958 governs who and the circumstances in which a will can be challenged. In general, challenges may be made by family members and some other people.
This is a technical area and your solicitor can advise you further if you are contemplating leaving someone out of your will who could later challenge your will.