Myth busting: four things you need to know about Wills

More than 50% of Australians don’t have a Will. As one of the most important documents you will ever create, it’s a baffling figure.  

Whilst thinking about your own death can be pretty uncomfortable, it’s important to understand that creating a valid Will gives you choice and control over how your estate is distributed, simplifies how your estate should be managed and most importantly,, reduces the likelihood of disputes arising down the track.

Many people put drafting a Will in the to-do pile but never seem to get to it. The reasons for this vary, but common ones we hear are:

  • I’ve done a DIY Will, so I’m covered
  • I don’t have any assets worth creating a Will for
  • I created a Will ages ago, so I’ll be fine
  • Getting a lawyer is far too expensive

Time to look at these reasons in more detail and do some myth busting.

I’ve got a DIY Will, so I’m covered

A DIY Will kit might seem like a simple, affordable option, but using a DIY Will kit can actually leave your estate exposed to difficulties down the track as they are very easy to get wrong.

For example, mistakes we often see from DIY Wills include:

  • Attempting to give away assets you don’t own
  • Failing to comply with basic legal formalities
  • Being too specific
  • Imposing requirements on a beneficiary, and
  • Forgetting to appoint an executor

Simple things like using the wrong colour pen or not having a Will correctly witnessed are all too common.

We've previously discussed more reasons to avoid DIY Will kits, but the message is: if you want a legally-valid, water-tight Will, get an expert lawyer to draft it.

I don’t have any assets worth creating a Will for

We hear this most commonly from young people who think that the major asset you need in order to create a Will, is a home.

While owning a home (or moving home) is a great time to create and update your Will, it’s not the only asset worth protecting.

Look around your home – everything you own is an asset. Your clothing, your sentimental objects, your pets, your car and the phone or laptop you’re using to read this article on are all assets worth protecting in your Will.

Your Will should also protect your financial assets, including ones you don’t see every day. For example:

  • Your superannuation
  • Any shares or dividends
  • Your savings, and
  • Any money or inheritances you may receive in the future

The financial value of your estate is not always important when creating a Will – but the emotional value of your estate is.

I created a Will ages ago, so I’ll be fine

One of the biggest misconceptions in estate planning is that a Will is a once-off document that never gets changed or updated.

In fact, as your life moves and changes, so should your Will. Big life moments will impact how your estate is set up and how it should be divided.

These moments can include:

  • Buying and selling property
  • Marriage, divorce and blended families
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Jobs, particularly business ownership
  • Major financial changes

Nine times out of ten, a Will that you created when you were 30 is not going to be reflective of your assets and life circumstances when you’re 65. In that time you may have bought and sold several properties, had children, remarried, owned several cars, built a nest-egg in your superannuation or received assets from loved ones.

And as life changes, the complexities in your Will may increase too. Managing blended families or multiple properties can be particularly difficult.

Having expert guidance to navigate you through the legal system makes the process of updating your Will much easier.

Getting a lawyer is far too expensive

Many people think that if their life is too complex, having a lawyer draft their Will is going to cost a fortune. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are two things that we tell clients:

  1. Firstly, if your Will is complex, then the best person to help you is an expert lawyer. This will significantly cut down legal costs, emotional strain and potential stresses after you pass while your loved ones try to work out what your wishes would have been.
  2. Secondly, having an expert lawyer on board is much cheaper than you think.

Our online Wills service, MyLife Wills™ only takes about 30 minutes, reducing face-to-face time with a lawyer, therefore reducing the cost. You can provide the information for your Will online in the comfort of your own home or on your lunch break

The main difference with our online service is that an expert Wills & Estates lawyer will draft your Will so you can be confident that it is not only thorough, but also legally valid.

Put your Will at the top of the to-do list

It’s easy to come up with reasons that permanently relegate creating a Will to the too-hard basket, but in 30 minutes you could have your estate sorted by an expert lawyer.

Preparing your Will now is an important step; one that will help you feel organised and ready for the future.

We’ve made it easy for you to start online today.

RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: CreateMyWill

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Andrew Simpson, Maurice Blackburn

Andrew Simpson

Maurice Blackburn Melbourne
When it comes to drafting a Will, dealing with an Estate or challenging or defending a Will, Andrew Simpson is the lawyer you want representing you. Andrew is a Principal Lawyer and the head of Maurice Blackburn’s national Wills and Estates Law practice. With more ...

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