Nobody wants to think that they could die tomorrow. Unfortunately many people have had an accident or sudden illness and passed away without making a valid will to protect their assets when they are gone.
You’ve worked hard to accumulate your assets, why leave it up to chance to determine where they go when you pass away?
First things first: make sure you have a will. This cannot be overstated enough. According to the NSW Government, around 55 per cent of Australians do not have a valid will. The remaining 45 per cent either have no will whatsoever, or their will has not been kept up-to-date.
When you make a will, you determine who will receive your assets when you die.
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While there are lots of DIY options you can buy off the internet, you really should consider consulting a lawyer who specialises in wills and estate planning – particularly if you have a complex family situation such as stepchildren or an ex-partner.
Without a will, you will be considered to have died intestate. Each state and territory has different laws around intestacy, but in general your assets will be divided according to a legal formula and this might not be who you want them to go to.
When you make a will you determine who will receive your assets when you die, for example your property, balances of your bank accounts, shares and other possessions. This gives you peace of mind that your loved ones will be looked after when you are no longer around.
Your will can also set out instructions about who you want to look after any minor children, as well as what you would like in terms of funeral arrangements.
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If there are family members you do not want to inherit your assets, you can use your will to outline your wishes and exclude them from inheritance. However there is no guarantee this will be upheld after you die, only taken into account in court if it is contested.
Wills can be contested. Everyone’s family dynamics are different and there is no guarantee that yours will not be contested, but by having a legal professional assist you when you create it you can hopefully mitigate against this happening down the track.
Once you have a will, don’t just set and forget it. Review it periodically and update it to ensure any new potential beneficiaries – such as new children or grandchildren – are looked after. If you divorce, remarry or your spouse dies before you, these are all triggers to review your will and update it.
Your will should be signed and witnessed properly in order to be valid. It’s also worth noting that the balance of your superannuation account is generally not part of your estate for the purposes of your will and neither is any life insurance payouts – these have their own separate provisions (see articles here and here).
This is not advice. DPN has built relationships with trusted suppliers who specialise in Lifetime Protection Insurance and Estate Planning to ensure you are not left financially exposed or under-prepared for life’s changing circumstances. It is recommended that you seek independent financial and or legal advice prior to taking out any insurance, estate planning or superannuation products.