Your Top Wills and Estate Planning Questions Answered

28 May 2018

In Wills and Estate Planning every one of our clients and their individual situations are unique, but there is one thing many of them have in common.

Most people who speak to us share a similar feeling of being overwhelmed or confused about parts of the process involved to create a Will and Estate Plan.

They say they don’t know where to start, or don’t know what’s required legally to make sure their future wishes will be secured.

To help you, we have put together the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers.

Our Top FAQs

Do I need a Will and Estate Plan?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they don’t have a lot of assets and their family circumstances seem straightforward, then they don’t need a Will or Estate Plan.

This is not usually the case.

If you have children, assets or keepsakes you wish to be cared for or distributed after your death, you need a Will. These may include significant financial assets such as property, shares or savings but it can also include superannuation and associated life insurance and keepsakes that may only have sentimental value.

And if any of the following applies to you, then you should definitely consider having an up-to-date Will and Estate Plan:

  • A business owner
  • Travelling overseas, or interstate regularly or for a long period of time
  • Undergoing a serious medical operation
  • Likely to be incapacitated, out of action or out of contact for a significant period of time
  • Frail or have chronic illness
  • Have children or are planning a family
  • Are getting married or divorced
  • Have a long-term partner or that long-term relationship has ended
  • Live with or about to move in with a partner
  • Are buying or have property, a business or other assets
  • Have a complex family situation.
  • Have superannuation, particularly if it includes a life insurance component, as this may require a specific Binding Death Benefit Nomination to ensure your nominated beneficiary receives the benefits you intended.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If you die without leaving a Will you are said to die intestate and the Law decides how your money and possessions should be divided.

People assume that their spouse or next of kin will automatically receive everything, but the situation can be more complicated than that, since you’re not the one deciding where your assets go to. It’s possible your assets may go to someone who you never intended to receive them.

Do I need to update my Will?

An out of date or invalid Will can be as bad as having no Will at all. It can cause arguments, confusion, and heartache at a time when loved ones are grieving.

Life and circumstances change over the years and so should your Will. There may be marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren, and changes to your assets that need to be taken into account.

Should I write my own Will?

Many people believe a DIY (do it yourself) Will can meet their meets but this is not often the case.

A Will is one of the most important legal documents that you will make in your lifetime and it is worth taking a little trouble to get it right.

It’s very easy to make a mistake with a homemade Will, as there are certain strict legal formalities that must be complied with.

It’s not uncommon for a DIY Will to cost an estate tens of thousands of dollars because the Will wasn’t drafted or executed properly.

While some of the mistakes can be fixed – many cannot.

If your question isn’t answered here, take a look at our full list of FAQs.

What next?

Contact Gill & Lane Solicitors to discuss your wills and power of attorney needs.