One of the most important priorities in your life should be a Will. If you have assets and have not yet talked to a lawyer about drafting a Will, you should do so sooner rather than later. Arranging your affairs to provide for your family and friends by making a will can give you peace of mind.
Although making a legally valid will can be complicated, following are the basic requirements of a will.
1. Distribute your Assets
You will need to choose the people who will receive your assets (your beneficiaries). Usually these will be your children, spouse, close friends and loved ones.
You may also wish to make some specific gifts. For example, you may wish to leave a sentimental family heirloom, a collection or a classic car to a particular family member or a lump sum of money to your grandchildren.
Anything left over once your debts have been paid and specific gifts have been given Is referred to as the ‘residue’ of your estate. You will need to nominate a person or organisation to receive the residue of your estate.
Importantly, by law you may be required to adequately provide for dependents such your spouse and children (even adult children). Failure to do so may leave your will open to legal challenges.
2. Choose an executor, trustee and guardian
‘Appointment’ is the process of choosing individuals to carry out your wishes as expressed in your will.
- An executor is the person who ‘executes’ the instructions in your will. They are responsible for ensuring that your beneficiaries actually receive what you have left them in your will.
- A trustee looks after assets held in a trust for the benefit of other people. Your executor and trustee may be the same person.
- Guardian: If you have children under the age of 18, the guardian(s) appointed in your will are responsible for caring for them.
It is important to talk to the people you choose to perform these duties to ensure that they are happy to be appointed. Choosing people with appropriate skill sets who will work well with the other appointees will help ensure that your estate is administered as you intended.
3. Meet the formal writing requirements
There are specific, formal writing requirements which must be met to make your will valid. If you do not meet these requirements the court may not give effect to your will. For a will to be valid, it must:
- Be In writing (handwritten or typed);
- State that the document is intended to be your will;
- Be signed by you (called execution) on each page in the presence of at least two witnesses, then signed by the two witnesses; and
- Dated at the time of signing.
4. Store your will in a safe place
Keep your will in a safe place which is also easily accessible. At Mid Mountains Legal we can store your will at no charge in our safe custody facility. This gives you security and allows you, or upon your passing, your executor, easy access to your will.
Managing Your Affairs
At certain points in your life, you may need help in managing your affairs. An Enduring Power of Attorney and an Appointment of Enduring Guardianship are two instruments which allow another person to do this.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) gives a person you appoint permission to manage your financial affairs in situations where you are unable to do so, such as if you lose capacity. An EPOA is limited to financial affairs. An Enduring Guardianship should be sought when broader powers are required to manage a person’s lifestyle, health and medical affairs.
Having your solicitor advise you about and draft your will is a worthwhile investment in your family’s future. Contact us at Mid Mountains Legal and we will be happy to assist you.