A Will is a legal document that gives you the power to decide how your estate gets managed and distributed after your death.
Making a Will is not a difficult process when you follow these 5 simple steps:
- Speak with an Estate Lawyer in our Estate Planning team.
- Appoint executors and trustees to manage your estate, including appointing a legal guardian if you have children.
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities you own.
- Decide who will be the beneficiaries of those assets and liabilities.
- Make your Will and inform your loved ones where you have stored it. It is also important to remember to update your Will if your circumstances change.
Speak with an experienced Estate Lawyer
The benefit of speaking with a lawyer who specialises in Wills and Estate Planning instead of doing your own Will and other estate planning documents is often making these documents yourselves carries the risk of these documents later proving, for different reasons, to be invalid and therefore unenforceable. This can create a situation of chaos for those you leave behind.
- Codicils (a document that can be used to make minor amendments to an existing Will)
- Testamentary Trusts
- Enduring and General Powers of Attorney
- Appointment of Enduring Guardianship
- Deeds of Family Arrangement
Anyone who is over the age of 18 years or married (or considering marriage) is eligible to make a Will, provided they have testamentary capacity. Anyone under the age of 18 years and unmarried, may still be eligible to make a Will but only with the Court’s approval.
Appoint an executor, trustee, and legal guardian
An executor is a person who is nominated by you to ensure that the terms of your Will are carried out. Your Will is incomplete if you do not appoint an executor to manage and administer your estate. See our section on Choosing an executor to learn more.
If your Will establishes a trust or trusts then the person nominated as executor will also take on the role of a trustee. Ordinarily, the trustee continues to manage the trust until such a time that the trust has vested (comes to an end).
If you have children under the age of 18 years, it is a good idea to appoint a legal guardian for them in your Will. A legal guardian will have the power to make long-term decisions for your children, including education, values (and religion) as well as health and lifestyle.
Therefore, when making your Will it is important to appoint the right person for the role, ensuring that it is someone you can trust, whether it be your executor, trustee, or legal guardian.
Make a list of all your assets and liabilities
The next step in the process is to make a list of all your assets and liabilities, as well as your superannuation and life insurances, including an approximate value for each of them. Consideration must be given whether or not the asset or liability is owned individually or jointly. This is particularly important in cases where you own property, where ownership may be as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’ if the property is owned with other co-owner/s.
Decide who are the beneficiaries of your estate
A beneficiary is someone who you name in your Will to receive the assets of your estate. Often beneficiaries are spouses, children, other family members and/or friends. In some cases, beneficiaries are also charities. In your Will, you can leave all or some of your assets to as many beneficiaries as you would like, and in the proportion you want.
You may consider incorporating testamentary trusts in your Will, for instance, if you have a child or children that are underage at the time of your Will and you would like for them to receive your assets. In such a case, you may wish for your assets to remain in trust until your children reach a certain age before they become eligible to benefit from the trust.
A testamentary trust is a discretionary trust established in the Will, which may offer you and your family greater asset protection. Testamentary trusts are often also considered to be tax-effective in the distribution of capital and income from the assets of the trust. You can learn more about testamentary trusts in our fact sheet.
Make, store and update your Will as required
Once you have made your Will, it is important to store it somewhere safely and inform your loved ones of its location.
Our experienced team of Estate Lawyers can help you with making your Will and other sensitive documents and also, after they are properly executed and witnessed, store it safely and securely in our safe custody facility.
Circumstances in life change all the time, which may more often than not prompt you to change your Will. A common scenario where updating your Will is important is after you have separated from a former partner or spouse. For more on this topic, see our article ‘Updating your Will after a Separation’.
Ready to get help from an Estate Lawyer?
If you have any questions relating to anything in this article, or would like to discuss your Will or estate planning, you can get in touch with our experienced Estate Lawyers or complete your will online with us today. We can help you put a plan in place that gives you peace of mind, knowing that your family is taken care of after your passing.
The content of this article is intended as a general guide to the subject matter. For specific legal advice about your individual circumstances, please contact our experienced lawyers.
Geeti is an integral member of the Ivy Law Commercial and Estate Planning team, acting on a broad range of matters including business sales and company acquisitions, capital raising, contract law, family provisions and estate planning.
Geeti is passionate about helping her clients achieve optimal outcomes and is highly regarded for both her empathetic nature and strong commercial acumen.