Have you ever thought about what will happen to your family when you die? It might seem like a morbid topic but it’s one that really should be considered for the sake of your loved ones.
What is a Will?
A Last Will and Testament is a legally binding document that details your wishes in regards to how your property will be distributed, who it will be distributed to, and if you have offspring it also sets forth your wishes for who will care for your kids. A Will needs to be in writing and signed by you and your witnesses for it to be considered legal. You can get a template from your local post office or you can have a Will drawn up by a lawyer.
Why do you need one?
There are a number of reasons why it is important to have a Will:
- A Will lets you determine what happens to your personal belongings, assets, and your children after you die. If you have children from a prior marriage, a will can determine which assets they receive. Having a legal will minimises the tension and anxiety that can be felt by the people you’ve left behind. Many a family has been split apart due to relatives fighting over who gets what.
- A Will also gives you the option to leave all, or part of, your assets to a charity, institution, or organisation. Similar to your Superannuation, you just need to declare that entity as the beneficiary.
- Your Will also lets you decide who will handle the actual process of divvying up your belongings. This person or persons, known as the executor, has the authority to follow the instructions you’ve given in your Will. Executors may also pay off bills, cancel credit cards, and notify banks and government bodies of your death.
- It will speed up the probate process. Put simply, this process is your Will being passed through a court to ensure it’s all above board.
- You may have had a major falling out with a family member and you do not want them to gain from your passing. In this instance, you can simply disinherit them by not including them in your Will at all.
What happens when you die without a Will?
When a person dies without a Will the State will oversee the distribution of belongings and assets. The State does not get your property, but they do decide who gets what. Generally, half of your estate will go to your partner and the other half with being divided among your children. The State may decide that in order to do this they need to sell the family home. Imagine the impact that would have on your already grieving family.
The State will also decide who will raise your children. It may be a family member or it could be a State-appointed guardian. It could even be that family member that you’ve had a falling out with. You don’t get to decide who will look after your children unless you have a Will.
Why don’t you make your Will today?
We all know that tomorrow may never come. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Putting off making your Last Will and Testament will not make you live any longer, but it might make your family’s life more difficult should something happen to you. So, grab that Will template or make an appointment with a lawyer today.
Ali Hitchcock is a freelance writer, blogger, and author who is always working on one project or another. She lives in regional Western Australia with her husband and four children. When she has some free time she usually has her nose in a book or is sitting at the computer frantically typing away. Ali blogs about personal finance at Miss Moneycanny and about anything and everything at Ali Hitchcock.