NSW Law Society hosts will awareness events

Date: Sep 29, 2011

New South Wales has hosted over 100 individual events designed to urge members of the public to draft a legal will - including this year's Will Awareness Day, which was hosted by the Law Society of NSW last month.

A public ceremony was held in Bathurst’s All Saints’ Cathedral on August 19 and was attended by prominent figures such as the state attorney-general Greg Smith.

President of the NSW Law Society Stuart Westgarth said that studies had showed that creating a valid will and testament was not an activity many Australians had considered, the Western Advocate reports.

"Legal battles over wills and estates are no longer confined to celebrities or the super wealthy, particularly with the high rates of divorce and remarriage," said Mr Westgarth.

In most cases, a will is made invalid at the moment its creator enters into a marriage or receives a divorce.

Failure to revoke previous copies of a will after these occasions can result in a person being left intestate.

An experienced wills and estates lawyer can help you navigate the specific legal requirements that allow a will to remain valid past these events.

People who die intestate - without a legal will in place - or who leave badly prepared legal instructions could run the risk of increased family tensions as loved ones are left to divide the assets without guidance.

Mr Westgarth said: "Under current legislation, failure to draw up a will may see your estate divided according to a government formula that does not reflect your wishes and in some circumstances, your estate may go to the state government."

According to the legal society, seeking sound legal advice is a major step in ensuring that your financial and personal circumstances are covered in the event of your death.

The Will Awareness Day initiative has been designed by the NSW Law Society to provide the wider community with access to legal information on just what should be included in a legal will, as well as other important estate planning concerns.

Appointing a trusted individual as the executor of your estate is important, as they will have the power to divide your assets according to your wishes, while still being able to exercise a degree of discretion over the process.

Providing this person with legal instruction can remove uncertainty over the nature of your property decisions and can help reduce the incidents of estate disputes between loved ones.