Why should I make a will?

Date: Aug 20, 2012

Regardless of your age, marital status or stage of life, everyone should have a legal will.

While it may be a popular misconception that wills are only for those people who have a lot of money or own properties, Legal Aid Australia asserts that wills are for everyone.

There are a number of key benefits to making a will:

A will allows you to clearly express your wishes

When there is no evidence of what you wish to happen to your assets after your death, your estate - a term that refers to your belongings and property - is distributed in accordance with a legal formula.

This is known as dying 'intestate' and means that your estate will not be distributed according to your wishes and intentions - and in some cases, if you have no living relatives, your estate may go to the government instead.

Without a will, you could also create delays, complications and in some cases, even additional costs for your relatives.

In your will, you can appoint a person you trust to act as an executor - meaning that they carry out your instructions.

You can also leave directions for other issues that you may have - such as funeral arrangements.

A will helps you provide for people you care about

Your will can set out provisions for people that you care about - including your partner and your children or grandchildren.

A skilled wills and estates lawyer can help you make these provisions and ensure that they are not likely to be contested after your death. They can also advise on your obligations to provide for your spouse and any dependents.

In addition, you can also utilise your will to make a gift to charity, or to ensure that sentimental items - including letters, photographs, jewellery and coins - are left to particular individuals.

A lawyer can ensure your will is valid

When you have a lawyer help you make a will, it is less likely that your wishes will be contested. Your lawyer can also help you take the essential steps to ensure your will is valid - including making sure that it has been properly signed and witnessed.

Most lawyers will also offer you a safe place to keep your will, although you may also find it is a good idea to keep a signed copy with your personal papers, as well as giving one to your executor.