5 myths about wills and estates

Date: May 28, 2014

Estate planning and creating a will is like filling in your tax return. If everything is covered and accounted for, then you are fine, but if you miss anything out or don't complete it there could be complications in the future.

While estate planning can be a tedious process, there are untrue myths about wills that put some people off from completing one.

1) Writing my own will is cheaper and easier

While this could be a good option in a hurry, it is no long-term solution. By failing to work through a will with a lawyer, you can risk leaving assets out of your will or creating one that simply isn't valid.

All wills require signatures from two witnesses, who are not direct beneficiaries or the will-maker themselves. Any homemade will without these requirements will be deemed invalid.

2) Everything will go to my partner or spouse

It is dangerous to think that if you die without a will, your entire assets will go to your spouse. This is regarded as dying intestate. In this case, your assets will be distributed to any relatives following the provisions set out in the Succession Act NSW 2006. 

Although most of your assets would go to your spouse or partner, it isn't guaranteed, which highlights the need for a will.

3) I never have to update my will as I already covered everything

Creating a will based on your life at 20 or even 40 is flawed in the sense that it isn't your final estate and what could be relevant one year could not be the next.

A will needs to be consistently updated so any new births to the family or a divorce can be reflected. Anything that affects your finances or your estate needs to be included in updates to your will.

4) I don't have any assets worth including in a will

Everybody has something of worth to set aside for beneficiaries. This could include debts, superannuation and insurance payments.

These types of assets can add up quickly so although you may not know their true value, it would be important to create a will so an estate lawyer can assess their worth.

5) Writing a will is too complex

Without the help of an estate lawyer, this will be the case. It can be extremely time-consuming to remember to include every asset in your will and forgetting just one could lead to disputes in the future.

This is why it is vital to talk to a lawyer who can work through all your assets to make the will creation process as easy as possible.