A Will is a legal document that clarifies how you wish your assets (your estate) to be distributed after your death. The Will may also cover who your executor will be, payment of debts, withdrawals from accounts, any special requests, and who will take on guardianship of your children until they are of legal age. The importance of a Will is tremendous as it will ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes and make the life for your family and friends a lot easier.
A person must be at least 18 years of age to create a Will, unless the Will is made in contemplation of a marriage, or by the granting of a court order. You must have the mental capacity to know what you are doing and have the capabilities to distribute your assets as you wish. Legally, any person can draft a Will, but great care must be taken when doing so. Mistakes such as having it signed and witnessed incorrectly or having inaccuracies may invalidate the Will and difficulties may be faced when applying for probate.
A Will is valid if it is in writing and if the testator intends to sign the Will to give effect to it. The will must be signed by the Will-maker and two or more witnesses. Your witnesses need to be all present at the time the Will is signed or the signature of the Will-maker acknowledges that two or more witnesses were present at the time of the signing.
The drafting of a will may be done through various ways, with the help of a lawyer, the Public Trustee or a private trustee company. There are also many Do It Yourself (DIY) Will kits available but it is strongly not advised because of the risks that are involved. Most DIY kits do not have the option of making flexible changes, for instance, adding in special taxation issues or listing two or more alternate executors. Some kits have out of date information and there will be many opportunities for mistakes to be made and consequently, making the will invalid.
There are many other aspects of a Will, such as attestation clauses, residuary clauses, appointing guardians for children, appointing executors, making it overseas or in another language and changing or revoking a will. These issues would be addressed by professionals whilst drafting the Will.
It is strongly recommended to seek the advice of a professional as this will save your beneficiaries from unnecessary expense, time and effort as the result of an invalid will. Here at The Quinn Group, our legal team has many years experience in dealing with Wills and Estate matters. From drafting Wills and providing Estate Planning advice, to administering a deceased estate and assisting to contest a Will, we are able to provide professional and compassionate service across these and other related areas. If you would like advice regarding the preparation of your Will, call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange an appointment, alternatively you can submit an online enquiry.