The Legal Lowdown – Why It’s Important to Have A Will

A lot of people put off making a Will and we’ve heard plenty of reasons why –

  • “I didn’t want to think about death”
  • “I’ve had more important things to do”
  • “It all just seems too hard”
  • “I don’t have anything worth leaving”
  • “I’m still young – I don’t need a Will”

and the list goes on.

But what happens it you don’t make a Will?

If you don’t make a Will, there is legislation which sets out what happens to your estate – known as the intestacy rules.

The intestacy rules say who is entitled to share in your estate and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t go to the government!  However, it can be spread across multiple members of your extended family and those people become the people who have the right to manage or administer your estate.

Why the intestacy rules aren’t ideal

For a lot of people, the intestacy rules aren’t ideal – there is no flexibility in the distribution scheme and very little flexibility in who has the right to administer an estate.  In fact, the intestacy rules can make things harder for your family when you die, especially if there are family members that don’t get along.  The rules can lead to conflict, increased costs and even sometimes court proceedings.

In particular, for people with complex asset structures, blended families or high net-wealth, the intestacy rules can result in unexpected taxation issues, financial hardship, an inability to continue to operate family businesses and delay.

The benefits of having a Will

Making a Will provides you with:

  • control – YOU have control of who manages your estate (ie. your Executor) and YOU have control over who receives the benefit of your estate (ie. who the beneficiaries are);
  • certainty – your family will be clear on who has the right to make decisions; and
  • peace of mind – in knowing that you’ve made the process a little easier and less expensive for your surviving family during what it already a difficult and grief-filled period in their lives.
  • minimise tax – if structured correctly you can minimise tax in relation to your superannuation and estate assets.
  • protect your beneficiaries – You may want to protect your beneficiaries from bankruptcy, creditors, perhaps themselves and bad relationships.
  • save money – believe it or not, having a Will is the option that will save you money. Too often we hear of people not wanting to spend the money or “invest in a Will” because of the cost. The truth is that not having a Will will cost your loved ones more in dealing with disputes, uncertainty, additional processes and increased taxes because your affairs were not structured correctly.

The important bit

Every adult should have a Will – no matter how big or small their estate; how young or old they are; or how simple or complex their family circumstances.

A Will is life administration – just like making sure you have insurance.  It’s a couple of hours out of your life that can save a significant amount of time and money for your family when you die.  Can you afford to not have a Will?

Remember its not you that benefits from having a Will – its your family.

Next Steps

If you need to put a Will and Estate Plan in place and have peace of mind, please get in touch with our Senior Associates, Bianca Apollonio or Joanne Jenkins.

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