I think a legally binding, properly done will is crucial for everyone to have. There are a few things to think about and while I have posted on the importance of a will before, this guest post is from Australian lawyer Joe Ferninand, so it is sound legal advice instead of just my opinion.
The importance of preparing a legally binding will
While it may be an unpleasant thing to think about, preparing a will is an important thing to consider, even if you don’t think you’re “old enough”.
We all want our families and loved ones to be left financially secure if something were to happen to us, and a will ensures that your hard-earned wealth will go to the right people. Here are some reasons to consider preparing a legally binding will.
- You call the shots: By specifically directing which members of your family get what, you can ensure sentimental assets stay in your family by explicitly expressing it in your will. Dying without one means that a court will decide who will get what according to formulaic intestacy rules. Basically, this means the court will decide how your estate should be distributed with your loved ones having no say on the way your assets should be dealt with. It is also likely the court will distribute it in a way that you yourself would not have wanted. Moreover, if members of your family or friends are unsatisfied with distribution, expect your will to be subject to protracted court proceedings which could incur unnecessary financial and emotional toll on your family and friends.
- Allows you to get clear on tax liabilities – Drafting a will with a solicitor also ensures you think through the tax implications of the types of gifts you leave behind for family and friends. For example, if you decide to leave your house to one of your children, the sale of this asset later down the track may attract capital gains tax. Drafting and a will can ensure you are clear about what taxes might result from certain provisions in your will and allows you to plan ahead.
- Tying the knot or getting divorced – The general rule is when you get married, any existing wills are cancelled. Therefore, if you are going into marriage with significant assets, it is important to draft a new one once you get married, regardless of whether or not you already have an existing will. Similarly if you are divorced or separated, ensure you have a solicitor draft a new will for you reflecting your change in circumstances, or at the very least instruct them to create a codicil to your existing will. This basically is a formal document attaching to the will expressing any further additions you would like to add to the will.
While you can draft your own will, this is generally not recommended. There have been many cases where homemade wills have been ruled invalid on the basis of being unclear or incorrectly drawn up. Since your will is perhaps the most important document you will ever draw up, it’s best not to take any chances and seek professional advice from solicitors or family lawyers.
Author Bio: Joe Ferninand is a part-time free-lance writer and full-time legal eagle for a firm of family lawyers in Sydney.