We often asked questions about Wills, here are some of those frequently asked questions:
I’m not rich, do I really need a Will? Wills aren’t just for people who own property or have lots of money. Having a Will gives clear direction from you about what you want to happen to your property when you die and is evidence of your wishes. Making a Will is a positive step you can take to provide for your loved ones, leave gifts to certain people or charities, appoint a person you trust to carry out the instructions in your Will (your executor), leave any other instructions you may have (for example, about your funeral arrangements). Even if you don’t have a lot of money or you don’t own a house, you may want to leave other valuable or sentimental items such as art works, jewellery, photographs to particular people. Wills should be made by any competent adult over the age of 18 years. In certain circumstances the court will make a statutory Will on behalf of a person who does not possess mental capacity.
What is a Will anyway? A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your property and possessions after your death.
Having a clear, legally valid and up-to-date Will is the best way to help ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.
What happens if I die without a Will? Does the government end up with my estate? Someone who dies without leaving a Will is known as having died intestate. Studies show that approximately 45% of Australians do not have a current Will.
If you die interstate, your assets are distributed by following a formula set by law. In New South Wales, the Succession Act (NSW) 2006 sets out the order in which your eligible relatives will inherit your estate. The formula set in the Succession Act only considers certain family members. The situation becomes complex with blended families, if you have children from different relationships or if, for example, you have a legal spouse and de facto spouse (you have separated, and you have a new unmarried partner). It does not allow for gifts to friends or charities or for exclusion of eligible relatives due to estrangement or argument.
Without a will, your estate could end up with people you do not wish to inherit from you.
It is only if you die without leaving eligible relatives, that the government gets your estate.