Trust us - we get it, it can be a bit strange and uncomfortable to think about not being on this earth and the impact that might have on your loved ones (cue a few sideways glances to each other). However, making time to sort out your will can bring you a calming peace of mind. If it’s all there in black and white, you can relax knowing that what you want to see happen to your people, pets and valued items will come to fruition when it’s time to make your grand exit.
So why have a will?
Simply put, wills are mostly created to list the family members that you want to provide for if you pass away and how you want to divide up what you own. (Another name could be a sibling squabbling stopper)
Wills can also be used to determine who you would like to look after your children or pets should the unthinkable happen. Although an incredibly sad scenario to think about, it is so beneficial to know exactly how you would like them cared for.
Wills can also be used to outline if you would like to leave meaningful gifts or items to people or organisations of your choice. Many people leave donations to charities and causes close to their hearts.
Finally, wills can also list the arrangements for your funeral and what person you would like to carry these out. This is important to think about if some family members have questionable music or floral arrangement tastes.
If you don't have a will, or for one reason or another it is not valid, then your final wishes may not properly come to fruition and it could potentially put your family into legal or financial difficulties.
A guide to getting a will
If you don't have a will yet, or feel you need to update your current one, it’s good to know you have a few options. You could firstly get one drafted by someone with experience, such as a lawyer or trustee company.
It is also good to know that wills do not have to have a high cost association with them. It could pay to 'shop around' to find out your options. A will must also be signed and witnessed. If the proper procedures are not followed, a will may not be valid.
What should a will cover?
Some things to think about including in your will are:
- Your partner, children, grandchildren, other family members or friends you want to provide for
- Any family trust that you wish to leave property, money or other assets to
- Specific bequests such as cash payments, jewellery, artwork or furniture you want to leave to particular family members or friends
- Any charities or organisations you may want to leave money to
- Details of how you would like your funeral to be carried out
Your will needs both an executor and a trustee.
An executor obtains probate from the court – probate is a certificate from the High Court approving the will and authorising the executor to deal with the estate assets.
The trustee then carries out the wishes you have in your will after you die.
It is good to know you can actually appoint a family member as the executor and the trustee – even if they are going to benefit from the will.
Times when you may need to check your will?
Changes in your life can mean that your will is not the most up-to-date. You may need to have a think about if it is relevant to your current age and stage of life. Some of the key life milestones, like having a baby, or getting married are good times to check in on your will, and whether it is still what you want to happen.
This article contains general information only and is not intended as legal advice. We recommend seeking assistance from a qualified provider when drafting legal documents.