A Will is a legal document whereby you leave your estate to persons nominated in that document.
You can nominate anybody to be a beneficiaries, however, it is usual to provide that your estate goes to your spouse or partner and if you should both die within 30 days of each other then to your children. In this case if you leave your estate to your spouse then your spouse can change their Will at anytime leaving their estate to whoever they choose.
You can nominate any adult to be your executor. This can be a close friend, you brother and/or sister or adult children. It does not matter if any of these are actual or potential beneficiaries under the Will.
One of the advantages of having a Will is that it provides a legal document that your executor can produce to persons, banks or insurance companies etc. holding your assets to obtain these to distribute in accordance with your Will. If you die without a Will then you are said to be intestate so banks and others may not be able to deal with your next of kin without them producing Letters of Administration from the Supreme Court. This will not only delay the administration of your estate but will also cost your estate money which the beneficiaries may well do with receiving.
The Government has provided certain fixed rules dealing with the distribution of an intestate's estate which may cause problems for your spouse upon your death. Generally the rules provide that the spouse must share the estate with any children and in some circumstances this could lead to the surviving spouse having to sell the house to pay out the children. You may think that this would never happen to or amongst your children but it may not be the children who are the problem but their spouses or their children/grandchildren's spouses.
There are also complications in marital separations because if you are not divorced then your spouse is still entitled to claim in your estate upon your death even if this is many years later. If you have entered into a de facto relationship and this relationship continues for two years up to and including your death then your spouse and your de facto spouse share your estate. It is ever more complicated if there are children and step-children.
The best way to try to avoid these problems is to have a Will which specifies how you want your estate to be distributed upon your death.
Some assets such as houses and land held as joint tenants (see Methods of Holding Land) Insurance and Superannuation policies that nominate a particular beneficiary do not form part of the estate that can be dealt with under the will. As the beneficiary has already been determined by the law of survivorship (in the case of joint tenants), the nomination in the policy document and the discretion of the Superannuation Trustees.
If you wish to complete a form for us to prepare a simple will at the special price of $99.00 (incl GST) per document click here:
Send us Instructions for a Will
If you have any questions or would like to speak with a Springfield Legal Service representative regarding our service, please contact us.