Do you need a will? The simple answer to this question is “yes, if you have assets”. Almost everyone owns property of some kind or another, so almost everyone will need a will.
A person’s assets need not be substantial for it to make sense for them to need a will. Disputes over assets, even assets of little financial worth, are common. Such disputes can be costly to an estate if the courts become involved (as the costs may be borne by the estate that is the subject of the dispute), but perhaps more importantly they can lead to a break down in inter-family relationships.
It is important to have a valid Will in place to ensure that:
- Your assets, as a whole, are dealt with in accordance with your wishes.
- You can make specific gifts and legacies, by nominating the individuals who will receive your assets when you die. For example, you can nominate particular beneficiaries who you would like to receive particular items of jewellery or other property or sums of money.
- Your burial or cremation instructions are provided to your family.
- Your estate is administered by the person or persons who you nominate.
- Your estate is not dealt with in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which will apply if you die without a Will.
- The risk is minimised of a family provision claim being made by a person for whom adequate provision is not made under the laws of intestacy. For example, in New South Wales if a person dies without a Will leaving a de facto spouse but no children then the de facto spouse is entitled to all of the estate. The deceased’s parents may make a family provision claim as otherwise they will receive nothing from the estate.
- The risk of family breakdown is minimised.
- You can appoint a guardian of any minor children (i.e. children under the age of 18 years) in the event of your death.
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