Common misconceptions about Wills
Do I need a Will?
This is one of the most common questions asked by our clients (other than “will I win?”) Generally speaking, we find that people are evenly split on this issue, with half thinking a Will is a good idea, and the other half not.
For those who consider a Will to be unnecessary, such perception is usually based on assumptions that only wealthy people need a Will, or that if somebody dies without a Will, the estate will always go to the deceased’s domestic partner.
For many of those who believe having a Will is a good idea, a large cohort of them consider a standard ‘will kit’ to be as effective as a professionally drafted Will.
In short, these assumptions are false – everybody needs a Will, and every Will should be professionally drafted by a lawyer.
Don’t only wealthy people need a Will?
No. Everybody needs a Will.
While you may not consider yourself wealthy today, you cannot predict the future. What if you land that big promotion? What if you inherit money yourself?
Additionally, people can sometimes die unexpectedly in a way that results in compensation or insurance funds being paid out to a deceased person’s estate.
Furthermore, most superannuation schemes have life insurance (or a like policy) included as part of their fund membership, which can also result in large payments to an estate.
Won’t my estate go to my domestic partner?
Ordinarily, yes. But not always.
Each state has their own intestacy laws (when someone dies without a Will they die intestate). For example, in Queensland, only the first $150,000.00 goes to the deceased’s domestic partner, with a remaining portion going to any surviving children. This sometimes leads to unfortunate situations where the domestic partner must hold money on trust for small children, resulting in that money being quarantined and not available for general household use.
Equally, you may decide that you want to gift part of your estate to somebody else, such as a friend, a sibling, or even a charity. More often than not, intestacy laws will not accommodate such gifts.
Why put your faith in the intestacy laws when you can decide for yourself where you would like your estate to go?
Can I use a Will kit?
This is a question we hear everyday – why pay a lawyer when I can use a Will kit?
Beware! Will kits vary dramatically in quality, from the ‘just OK’ all the way down to the absurd (why does this Will kit not allow me to nominate an Executor?)
Not only can the quality of the Will kit cause problems, but so too can the person who is completing it. It is not uncommon to discover that a Will, completed by a recently deceased, was filled out incorrectly, or not executed properly. This can cause problems for the surviving family, as time and money if often then spent trying to determine the true intentions of the deceased, or explaining to the Court why the Will was not executed properly.
It’s not worth the risk
You’ve worked hard to build up your wealth. Wouldn’t you prefer to decide where it goes?
Having your Will drafted by a lawyer will help ensure your wishes are properly reflected in your Will. Additionally, a professionally drafted Will can help prevent legal challenges to your estate.