Making a will is a crucial step in ensuring that your assets and loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes after you pass away.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of how to make a will.
Step 1: Understand Eligibility and Testamentary Capacity
To make a will in Australia, you must be over 18 years old (unless married or with court consent) and have testamentary capacity.
This means understanding the legal effect of a will, being aware of your assets, and being capable of making rational decisions about who will benefit from your will.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Ensure you meet the age and mental capacity requirements before starting the will-making process.
Step 2: List Your Assets and Beneficiaries
Compile a comprehensive list of your assets, including property, bank accounts, investments, and personal items.
Decide who your beneficiaries will be; these can be family members, friends, or even charities. Be specific in identifying your assets and beneficiaries to avoid any confusion.
🔑 Key Takeaway: A clear and detailed list of assets and beneficiaries simplifies the will-making process and minimises disputes.
Step 3: Appoint an Executor and Guardian for Minor Children
Choose a responsible and competent executor who will manage your estate, pay debts, and distribute assets. If you have children under 18, appoint a guardian to take care of them.
Consider the executor’s and guardian’s ability to handle these responsibilities both emotionally and financially.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Selecting the right executor and guardian is crucial for the smooth execution of your will and the well-being of your children.
Step 4: Draft Your Will
You can draft your will with the help of a solicitor, use a will kit, or seek services from organisations like the Public Trustee.
A solicitor is especially helpful for complex estates or special circumstances. Ensure your will is clear and covers all aspects of your estate.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Professional assistance in drafting your will can provide peace of mind and legal accuracy, especially for complex estates.
Step 5: Sign and Witness the Will
Your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who should also sign the will.
These witnesses should not be beneficiaries to avoid conflicts of interest. In some cases, remote witnessing with a lawyer or justice of the peace is possible.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Proper signing and witnessing are essential for the legal validity of your will.
Step 6: Store Your Will Safely
Store your will in a secure place, such as a solicitor’s office, a safe deposit box, or a will registry. Ensure that your executor knows where to find it.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Safe and accessible storage of your will is vital for its execution upon your passing.
Step 7: Review and Update Regularly
Life changes and various factors can necessitate updating your will such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, or asset acquisition.
Regularly review your will to ensure it reflects your current wishes.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Keeping your will updated is as important as creating it, ensuring it always aligns with your current life circumstances.
The Value of Professional Legal Advice
In the journey of creating a will, the importance of seeking professional legal advice cannot be overstated.
While the process might seem straightforward, the complexities of legal requirements, asset distribution, and potential future disputes make the guidance of a legal expert invaluable.
A solicitor or legal advisor not only ensures that your will complies with all legal standards but also provides tailored advice that reflects your unique circumstances and wishes.
This professional insight safeguards your will against challenges and misunderstandings, ensuring that your legacy is honored exactly as you intend.
Remember, a well-crafted will, backed by legal expertise, is not just a document – it’s a lasting peace of mind for you and a clear, caring directive for your loved ones.