Sydun & Co Solicitors

Expert Tips for Crafting the Perfect Australian Will – Start Planning Your Legacy Today!

Preparing a will might be something we tend to put off, but it is an essential step in making sure that your assets are rightfully distributed according to your wishes after your death.

In Australia, there are certain things to consider when preparing a will to ensure that it is legally valid and meets your specific intentions. Therefore, hiring an experienced wills and estates lawyer can be highly beneficial to make sure you’ve ticked every box.      

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key things to consider when preparing a will in Australia.

What should you consider while preparing a will?

Seek professional advice

Preparing a will can be a complex process, and it is important to seek professional advice to ensure that your will meets all of the Australian legal requirements and your well-thought-out intentions.

You can consult with a solicitor, a wills and estates lawyer or a financial planner from the best law firms in Australia to help you prepare your will.    

Identify your assets and beneficiaries

Before preparing your will, you should clearly identify your assets, including your property, investments, bank accounts and any other assets.

Identify the location of those assets as they need to be within the jurisdiction. For immediate purposes, this would be NSW. Ask your lawyer for advice as to dealing with assets outside the jurisdiction whether elsewhere in Australia or overseas.

You should also identify your beneficiaries, including family members and friends or charities that you wish to inherit your assets.

If a beneficiary is to be excluded, the reasons for the exclusion should be clearly stated.

Choose an executor

An executor is a person responsible for administering your estate after your death. You should choose someone who is trustworthy and competent to act as your executor.

You should also consider appointing a backup executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to act.

Be clear and specific

Your will should be clear and specific about how you want your valuable assets to be distributed.

Do you want assets given to specific beneficiaries or sold and the net proceeds from the sale distributed?

You should also add all necessary details to any conditions or requirements that you want to impose on your beneficiaries, such as age or education requirements.

For the best outcomes, it’s recommended one seek professional advice from a reputable property lawyer in Sydney.

Sign and witness your will correctly

It seems obvious, but to be legally valid, your will must be signed and witnessed correctly. In Australia, a will needs to be signed by the testator (the individual making the will) and be witnessed by two witnesses who are over the age of eighteen and who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries.

Update your will regularly

Life changes all the time and we are all busy. However, your will should reflect your current circumstances and intentions. So it is important to take the time to carefully review and update your will regularly, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the acquisition of new assets.

A wills and estates lawyer can help to correctly update your will and ensure it remains legally valid.

Consider estate planning strategies

There are various estate planning strategies that you can consider to minimise taxes and ensure that your assets are allocated according to your wishes.

These strategies include creating a testamentary trust (a trust established under a valid will but not the same trust as the deceased estate), making gifts during your lifetime and establishing a life insurance policy.

Giving to members of a blended family

Giving to members of a blended family can be complex, but it is important to make sure that your wishes are crystal clear and legally binding.

It’s wise to discuss your intentions with all members of your blended family and seek professional advice from a property and deceased estate lawyer in Sydney that you trust. They will check it carefully to ensure your will reflects your intentions and is legally valid.

You may also consider setting up trusts or other legal structures to ensure that your assets are distributed fairly and equitably among all members of your blended family.

Providing for minor children

If you have minor children, you should appoint a guardian in your will who will be responsible for their care if you pass away. While this will not guarantee a court would follow this direction, it will be given considerable weight being evidence of your intention.

You should also consider setting up a trust to provide for their financial needs.

Making charitable gifts

If you wish to make gifts to charities in your will, you should see to it that the charity is properly identified and that your gift is structured in a way that maximises its impact.

Digital assets

With the increasing importance of digital assets in our lives, it is important to also think about     how they will be dealt with after your death.

For example, you may wish to include provisions in your will that address the transfer or management of your digital assets. To help you to get it right, choose legal consultation from the best law firms in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a will?

A will is a legal written record that outlines how a person’s assets will be distributed after they pass away that appoints a personal legal representative (“The Executor”) on behalf of the deceased estate. It is created before their death.

Do I need a lawyer to prepare my will?

While you can prepare your own will, it is always recommended that you seek expert legal advice to make sure that your will is legally valid in NSW reflects your wishes and leaves nothing to chance.    

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without a will (commonly known as dying intestate), your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws in your state or territory, which may not reflect your intentions. It is, therefore, important to have a valid will in place.

Can I change my will after it is prepared?

Yes, you can update or change your will at any time by preparing a new will or adding a codicil (an amendment) to your existing will provided you have the capacity to do so.

Can my will be contested?

Yes, in some circumstances, a family member or dependent may make a claim against your estate for further provision. To minimise the risk of such claims, you should ensure that your will is clear and very specific about your intentions and your beneficiaries and that you seek professional advice from someone you trust to check over it for you.    

What is an executor?

An executor is a person you appoint in your will as your personal legal representative to manage your estate and carry out your wishes by distributing the estate in accordance with the will. They are responsible for tasks such as paying your debts and taxes, distributing your assets, and filing any necessary legal documents.

Wrapping Up

By considering all the factors we’ve discussed, you can be confident in creating a will that perfectly reflects your values and priorities. Don’t wait until it’s too late – seek professional advice and start the process of preparing your will today. With a well-prepared will, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your legacy will be protected for generations to come.

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