Will Awareness Day

Date: Aug 19, 2011

Today (August 19) is Will Awareness Day - the first annual event designed to educate Australians about how a will can help loved ones find the way.

The Law Society of New South Wales has launched the state-wide event with the aim of informing members of the public of the importance of having a legal will in place.

Alarmed by the number of Australians who are intestate - without a legal will - the society has been striving to make information on succession and estate planning more readily available to the public.

A spokesman expanded on the concerns of the professional body that prompted the creation of Will Awareness Day.

He asserted: "The absence of a valid will could see the person's estate divided according to a statutory formula that does not reflect the deceased's own wishes, and in some circumstances the estate could go to the NSW government."

Another danger of leaving family without specific instructions is that the administrator of the estate may not be able to take the financial position of loved ones completely into account.

If this is the case, friends and relatives of the departed may find themselves in conflict over the assets of the deceased person, perhaps even entering into an estate dispute.

To help prevent this, the Law Society will be providing information on how to make a valid will, including the appointment of an executor.

This important process means that someone you trust is placed in charge of carrying out your instructions and wishes.

People who may be unsure of the legal requirements involved in creating a valid will are able to speak to experienced legal professionals and estate lawyers to gain factual, relevant information on the process.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask questions on a range of topics - including the structure of a will, the legal requirements of an executor and the various options available for parties challenging a will.

Information on the legal requirements for powers of attorney and the appointment of guardians for minors will also be made available.

Professionals who own a family business can also gain advice on including the firm as part of an estate, as privately owned companies are considered to be assets under Australian law and are treated in a similar way to shares or property.

There is no need to book for the event, as the organisers have arranged for plenty of space at the presentations, with tea and coffee available.