Often when client’s first approach us about their Will they are overwhelmed with the decisions they have to make. From simple affairs to complex estates, WJM’s Wills and Estates team turns jargon-laden legalese into everyday language for our clients providing practical yet compassionate legal counsel to help you make decisions about how to distribute your estate.

To remove some of the confusion surrounding Wills we have drafted some answers to frequently asked questions we often receive from our clients. 

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that states how you would like your assets to be distributed when you die. In addition, a Will notes the person or people who you would like to be responsible for carrying out your wishes.

How old do I have to be to make a Will?

A Will can be made by anyone aged 18 years or older so long as they have the mental capacity to understand what they are doing in making a Will. A person under 18 years of age can only make a Will if they are married or obtain a Court Order authorising them to make a Will. 

Why do I need a Will?

Everyone needs a Will to ensure the people or organisations they want to benefit after they die are in fact the people who do benefit. Without a Will, there is no way of guaranteeing who will receive your estate.  Life can be unpredictable and none of us knows what may happen at any time.  Having a valid Will will ensure your affairs are in order and your wishes are clearly set out.  

It is important to note that having a Will can minimise the likelihood of disputes against your estate.  If you die without a Will, or without a valid Will, you are said to die “intestate”.  In these circumstances, the relevant legislation sets out a formula for how your estate will be distributed and to whom.  This distribution of your estate may end up being very different from what you would have wanted. 

If I don’t have a lot of assets, do I still need to make a Will?

Yes, everyone should have a valid Will.  One reason people give for not having a Will is their perception that they don’t have anything of value to leave when they die.  Surprisingly, you will accrue quite a lot of assets during your lifetime.  Typically, few people die without any assets to their name.  For instance, most people have superannuation. Often the death benefit associated with your superannuation can be significant which would be given to your beneficiaries if you have a Will.  

Generally, your financial circumstances will change over your lifetime. Whilst you may have few assets at the time when you make your Will, your financial situation could be very different when you die. 

What is the best way to go about getting a Will?

Make an appointment to meet with a Wills & Estates lawyer in Geelong to be provided with advice specific to your circumstances.  There is no one type of Will that is appropriate for everyone.  Sometimes a simple Will is appropriate but in other cases, a more complex Trust Will might be appropriate in providing possible asset protection and be a tax-effective strategy.  An experienced Wills & Estates lawyer draft a Will that is appropriate for your individual circumstances. 

How often should I update my Will?

A Will should be reviewed regularly and consideration given as to whether changes need to be made.  As your life circumstances, so should your Will.  In general terms, a change in your circumstances, your executor or beneficiaries’ circumstances may justify the need to alter your Will.  For instance, marriage changes, varied living arrangements, the birth of children, separation, divorce or remarriage all warrant a Will being reviewed and updated.  A change in your assets may also cause you to consider a different distribution to what you previously considered under your Will. 

What happens if I die without a Will?

Making sure your loved ones are provided for is far too important to leave to chance and the consequences could be disastrous for your family if you die without a valid Will. Dying without a valid Will means your assets will be distributed in accordance with legislation.  The result being that your assets may pass to someone who you didn’t plan to benefit and someone who you would have wanted to benefit may receive less or in fact nothing.  A properly drafted Will reflecting your wishes will ensure nothing is left to chance. 

Work with knowledgeable Wills & Estates lawyers in Geelong

Compassionate, caring and knowledgeable, the WJM Wills & Estates lawyers in Geelong will work closely with you to prepare a clear, tailored Will that accurately describes your last wishes. From simple affairs to complex estates, our Wills and Estates team’s practical and compassionate legal counsel will help you make decisions about how to distribute your estate including your superannuation death benefits. Not to mention, our accredited Wills & Estates specialist and senior lawyers on our Wills & Estates team have extensive experience in defending claims against a deceased estate. 

Make sure your loved ones are provided for and your wishes are reflected with a Will. Contact Geelong knowledgeable Wills lawyers, WJM, on (03) 5222 2077 or info@wjmlawyers.com.au to book a discussion about your Will.