The importance of having a valid will

Nobody likes to think about their own demise.

If you are one of the many Australians who does not have a current will, your family could be left financially vulnerable if you were to die unexpectedly. Having a valid will is important for everyone, but it becomes particularly essential in the event that you have dependents or a family.

According to the Law Society of NSW, there are a number of criteria that are necessary for a will to be considered valid and legal:

  • Conveyed in writing
  • Signed by you
  • Witnessed by at least two other signatories

As there may be tax implications and even possibly legal issues from a badly worded or confusing will, it is always a good idea to seek professional advice when preparing your will. The general purpose of a will is to decide the distribution of any assets you may have between your beneficiaries, and make provision for the care of any children that you have responsibility for.

Just because you have a will does not mean that it will always be current. Life events such as getting married, divorced, or having children, may change the way you would want your assets distributed. Marrying after you have made a will results in the will being automatically revoked – if you have not prepared the will in anticipation of your marriage; while obtaining a divorce cancels out any inheritance left for your former spouse. It is therefore quite important that your will is updated whenever necessary to reflect your current priorities and the needs of your dependents.

Not having any will at all could mean a delay in your assets being distributed to family members, and if you have no family members your estate generally passes to the state. The best way to ensure that your assets are distributed as you would wish them to be, is to have a will in place, and review it when those wishes change, or after any significant change in your life.

 

Sources:

The Law Society of NSW – http://www.lawsociety.com.au/community/publicationsandfaqs/legalquestions/ShouldImakeawill/index.htm

http://www.tag.nsw.gov.au/wills-faqs.html

Disclaimer: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The information and any advice in this publication does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. This article may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but has not been independently verified. It is important that your personal circumstances are taken into account before making any financial decision and we recommend you seek detailed and specific advice from a suitably qualified adviser before acting on any information or advice in this publication. Any taxation position described in this publication is general and should only be used as a guide. It does not constitute tax advice and is based on current laws and our interpretation. You should consult a registered tax agent for specific tax advice on your circumstances.

 
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