A Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever create, and is essential for end of life planning and getting your affairs in order. We always talk about how to write a Will and the process involved, but why do we need a Will?
Reasons to write a Will.
We avoid writing Wills for so many reasons: we don’t want to face our mortality, we don’t believe we need to, the process is overwhelming, the list goes on and on.
By writing a Will, you can appoint your beneficiaries and state exactly what you want to happen to your assets when you pass away, whether that’s to go to your parents, spouse, children, or even charity.
If you need a reminder about why writing a Will is important, keep reading to learn more.
1. Avoid dying intestate.
If you pass away without a Will in place, this is called ‘dying intestate’. Certain laws of intestacy will apply and your assets will be distributed by default to your family.
This is fine in theory, but the reality of dying intestate is that the process of your loved ones receiving your assets is long and lengthy, and your estate may not go to the people you want it to go to. Disputes can arise among beneficiaries and resolving this in court can be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining, which compounded with grief will be an extremely difficult experience for your loved ones.
2. Who will look after your children?
If you are a parent or guardian of a child, it is crucial that you have a valid Will in place. If you have written your Will before you had children, once you do have them, you need to update it as soon as possible.
When you are a parent or legal guardian, you should have a plan for what happens to your children when you pass away, such as who will be their guardian if they are minors.
Without a Will in place, the courts won’t know who you want to raise your children. This invites family members with different values to potentially come in and raise them in a way that you disagree with.
If you are leaving your estate to your children who are minors, you will also need to appoint somebody to be a caretaker of the funds and assets until they are 18 years old.
All Wills need to have an executor appointed, but it’s especially important when minor children are involved. The executor will need to disperse the funds and pay any debts, so choose somebody close to you and who cares about your children, so they have their best interests at heart.
3. Even if you don’t think you have assets, you probably do.
If you own property, shares, have money in the bank or are a pet owner, you need to get writing your Will. This, along with any debts or loans, makes up your estate.
When making an audit of your possessions, take a look around your home. Note any furniture; special ornaments, jewellery and other belongings; and any car and money in your bank accounts that you may have. You might be surprised with how much you actually have.
Also consider any insurances, cars, other kinds of investments and items with sentimental value. Think about the people in your life and how you could take care of them if you’re gone. You may want to leave something to a partner or friend, but laws of intestacy may see your family as your next of kin.
You also may want to consider donating part or all of your estate to a charity. Even if you don’t think you have much to give, any contribution can make a difference.
You can update your Will as your circumstances change.
You might think it’s better to put off writing your Will until you reach certain milestones, but you can make changes when required, or make a new Will.
Wills and estate plans shouldn’t be a ‘set and forget’ approach, but reviewed every few years or whenever there is a significant change to your personal or financial circumstances. For example, it’s wise to make a new Will as soon as possible, if there is a change in your relationship: if you marry, divorce, separate, have children, or enter into or end a de facto relationship.
You should also update your Will if you buy or sell a major asset like a house or car. Any items that you’ve listed as specific bequests will need to be updated if they are no longer in your possession.
If you, or anyone else named in your Will changes their name or contact details, you should update your Will. Ensuring information is current and correct makes it easier for your executor to carry out your wishes.
Although not legally necessary, it’s safer to write a new Will if your witnesses have died since you wrote it, or if your chosen executor is unable to execute your Will for some reason.
Regular reviews ensure a Will remains current and that the beneficiaries and assets remain correct. Reviewing your Will at least every five years is the common approach to ensure that all details are current and correct.
The time to write your Will is now.
It’s never been easier to get your affairs in order, with Bare’s free online DIY Will. Use our template to check your eligibility and use the prompts to populate your Will today.