Losing a loved one can make for an emotionally challenging experience, and it can create a difficult period of uncertainty and trauma for the family to move past. In the midst of this stressful time, worries can be compounded when their loved one’s estate and various assets have not been left with clear directives for their distribution.
A will is a legally binding document that can provide crucial guidance in such times, ensuring your assets are distributed as intended. This is important in ensuring that your wishes are respected and helping your loved ones follow a smooth and clearly outlined plan in a difficult time.
To help you learn more about wills, we’ve explained their benefits in greater depth, outlined the key elements that you need to include in this document, and provided some different methods you can choose to produce your very own will.
Why Writing a Will is Important
Writing a will isn’t just a formality; it’s a crucial step that all people can take to safeguard their legacy and ensure their wishes are honoured. From asset distribution to providing for your loved ones, a will offers clarity and security in times of uncertainty.
Control Over Asset Distribution
Among the primary benefits of writing a will is the ability to control who inherits your assets. Without a will, your estate is subject to intestacy laws, which may not align with your personal wishes. This could lead to unintended beneficiaries receiving a portion of your estate. Put simply, your assets may not be given to the people you think should have them, and this can inevitably lead to disputes and complications. By clearly stating your intentions in a will, you can ensure your family bypass these issues, ensuring each of your assets is distributed according to your exact wishes.
Providing For Family and Dependents
While a will does come at a cost, it is instrumental in securing the financial future of your family and your dependents. It’s your way of making sure your family are looked after to the best of your ability when you’re no longer able to. It allows you to specify that certain assets and portions of your wealth are dedicated to certain pursuits, such as healthcare and education. Furthermore, a will can also designate guardians for your children, offering you peae of mind about their well-being and future prospects.
Minimising Your Tax Burden
While taxes such as inheritance tax may not be applicable in certain jurisdictions, other taxes like Capital Gains Tax can affect your beneficiaries should they decide to sell any inherited assets. By writing a will alongside knowledgeable wills and estates lawyer, you can minimise the tax burden on your beneficiaries by assessing your current financial situation and creating a well-informed plan for asset distribution.
What to Include in a Will
Crafting a will involves thoughtful consideration of what you value and wish to pass on. It provides clear instructions to ensure your legacy is managed just as you intended.
Key Elements of a Will
Your will should clearly list your assets, from real estate and financial accounts to personal items of sentimental value, and designate the beneficiaries for each. Additionally, appointing a reliable executor is crucial; this person will oversee the fulfilment of your wishes as outlined in your will. If you have children who are minors, specifying who their guardian will be is important, ensuring they are cared for by someone you trust in the event of your absence.
Including provisions for any trusts or specific conditions on asset distribution is also advisable, and this should be explained very clearly. You may also wish to document your funeral wishes and record all of your accounts and memberships in one central place to make the job of your executor simpler.
Updating Your Will
Life is dynamic and changes very quickly, and that’s why your will needs to be flexible. Major life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, or significant changes in your financial situation may warrant a review and potential update of your will. Regular updates ensure that your current circumstances are wishes and accurately reflected. Generally, it is recommended that your will is updated at least once every three to five years. Consulting with a wills and estates lawyer, however, can give you a personalised estimate and provide you with expert advice to ensure your will remains valid and up-to-date.
How to Write a Will
The writing of a will is an enormously important step in effective estate planning, and it must be undertaken with great care. Whether you opt for professional assistance or a DIY approach, understanding the entire process is key.
Consulting a Wills and Estates Lawyer
The most reliable way to write is by consulting an experienced wills and estates lawyer. Their expertise ensures that your will is legally sound, comprehensive, and tailored to your unique circumstances. These specialists can guide you through complex legal considerations, offer advice on asset distribution, and help minimise potential taxes faced by your beneficiaries. Their services can typically be secured for between $300-$500 per hour, or a public trustee can complete the service for between $440 and $550, depending on the level of customisation you opt for.
Using a Will Writing Kit
For those with simpler estates, a will-writing kit might be a viable option. These kits provide basic frameworks for creating a will. However, they lack the personalised guidance and legal expertise that a professional can offer. While cost-effective, it’s important to be cautious, as a DIY will is more susceptible to errors and might not adequately address all legal intricacies. They can typically be completed at your convenience for less than $100, but it is still recommended to consult a wills and estates solicitor to ensure no mistakes have been made.
Secure Your Family’s Future With A Will
Writing a will is a crucial step in securing your legacy and providing peace of mind for both yourself and your loved ones. It ensures your wishes are honoured and your estate is managed as you intended. For a process as significant as this, it is highly advisable to reach out to an experienced wills and estates lawyer. Their guidance and expertise ensure that your will is comprehensive, legally sound, and reflective of your current life circumstances, making it an invaluable investment in your future planning.