The majority of people desire to financially assist their family and also to contribute towards their community. One of the ways of doing that is by making a will. A will is a legal document by which a person provides for the distribution of their assets after their death. In Australia most people over the age of 18 can make a valid will. However, it is estimated that over half of the people who die each year die without having completed the formality of making a will.
There are various reasons for this:
Many of us do not like to face up to the fact that we will die. Some people die unexpectedly.
The attitude of some people is that they do not need a will as they believe that their assets will still pass onto their next of kin in accord with their wishes. However, this thinking overlooks the costs, frustration and inconvenience which the absence of a valid will might cause to their relatives. Also upon an intestacy (dying without a will) if the deceased leaves a spouse/domestic partner and children then the estate will be divided pursuant to the provisions of the Administration and Probate Act and not merely transferred to the spouse/ domestic partner. If a person dies without a will their domestic partner will have to satisfy certain conditions to be entitled to benefit from their deceased partner’s estate. If a person dies without surviving relatives the estate will pass to the State of Victoria.
Some people consider that the value of their assets does not warrant making a will. However, a person’s current assets may be much more valuable than they realise or their value could be worth much more at the time of their death. Furthermore they may acquire further assets during their lives and have assets of considerable value at the time of their death.
A will is a legal weapon to make sure that the assets will be distributed according to the wishes of their owner, and without too much worry, costs and delays for their family.
A will is also an opportunity to provide for less fortunate citizens by, for example, providing for a disabled relative by leaving a part of the estate on trust for the needs of that relative. Through a will people can assist their community, for example, by giving some furniture to a charity organisation, a computer to a local school, funds to a local hospital, school, various research institutions, sports organisations, institutions for the protection of the environment and organisations of which a person is a member.
The existing will should be regularly reviewed as life circumstances are constantly changing. It is important to take into consideration those new circumstances (for example: births, deaths, separation, divorces, children growing up, changes in the composition or value of assets, changes in legislation etc.)
It is important to mention that marriage automatically revokes a will, while separation and divorce don’t. If a person is separated from his/her spouse but not divorced, his/her married spouse will receive the benefits stated in the current will.
If you would like further information please contact Vesna Pocuca.