A Will is something every parent should have, regardless of your age, wealth or financial assets. But the thought of making a Will makes most parents squirm and change the subject. No one wants to talk about death, especially the possibility of dying before our children are adults. Who do we trust to raise them without us? And who should look after their inheritance until they are adults?
We think these are concerns we’ll never have to worry about, and the worries of willmaking only become relevant as retirement looms. But you can take comfort in the fact that there is a way to have direct control over the answers to these questions.
Dying without leaving a Will behind is known as ‘dying intestate’. You can also ‘die intestate’ if you make a Will but do not sign it correctly and the court is not satisfied you intended the document to operate as your Will.
Intestacy law is based on a formula which decides who gets your assets without consideration of your unique wishes or personal situation. As your assets are distributed according to a legal hierarchy of beneficiaries, the benefits may go to people who you would not have chosen had you made a Will. For example,
- Your spouse or partner may not inherit all of your estate automatically. If you haven’t been together long enough, your de facto partner may not receive anything at all, regardless of your intentions.
- Kids from another relationship? The absence of a Will in a blended family means someone you care about may not share in your estate.
- Best friends or other people outside the family will get nothing at all
- A trustee will be appointed to manage your estate for your children, and this may not the person you would have chosen to manage your money.
Moreover, your children could be taken into care whilst guardians are appointed, causing them even further stress. And even then, if you and your partner die without a Will, your kids may end up being raised by a person you would not have chosen for them, and whom may raise them contrary to your values and wishes. Any person that can show sufficient interest can apply to the court for an order to raise your children.
And that’s not to mention the risk of litigation over your estate, which can limit and delay the benefits that you intended for your loved ones. Whilst you can’t stop a family member challenging your Will, you can make it difficult for them to succeed, by drafting a Will that clearly and fairly sets out your wishes.
We are all going to die. So get your Will organised and then you can relax knowing that you’ve done all you can to minimise distress to your loved ones should the worst happen.
Nest Legal’s Wills service is designed for busy parents. We hold Skype or phone conferences in the evening when everyone is home from work and the kids are in bed. We sit you down and make you and your partner agree what should go in your Wills and we pester you both until you finalise and sign the documents. Don’t put it off any longer! You can start providing instructions now: http://www.nestlegal.com.au/wills-and-end-of-life-planning/