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Stop coming up with excuses not to do your Will!

Feb 17, 2016

Here are 4 excuses that we at Davoren Associates regularly hear for not doing a Will:

  1. “Everyone knows what I want to happen with my estate – I don’t need a Will”
  2. “It is an expense that I can do without at the moment”
  3. “I’m not quite ready yet as our situation is a bit complex – I just don’t know where to start”
  4. “I don’t need to worry about doing a Will until I am about to retire and have something to leave”

Do any of those excuses sound familiar to you? If so, you are not alone. These are the excuses that we most commonly hear from people putting off doing a Will. We thought that there is no moment better than the present to expose the truth behind those excuses for what they really are:

Everyone knows how I want my estate distributed

Maybe everyone does know how you want your estate to be distributed, but did you know that in the absence of a Will your estate may not be distributed according to your wishes. If you die intestate (without a valid Will in place), the provisions stipulated in Part 3 of the Succession Act 1981 (QLD) set out who will inherit and what their entitlements are to be. According to the Succession Act, your spouse would inherit the first $150 000 of your estate in addition to the household chattels (but that does not include the house itself) and that the remaining estate would be divided amongst your children and your spouse.

This distribution applies regardless of your relationship with your spouse or children at the time of your death, and also applies even if the consequence would be that the marital home needs to be sold. Although the distribution regime outlined by the Succession Act can be circumvented, it can only be done so in the event of agreement accompanied by the preparation of a costly Deed, and likely the payment of tax – all expenses that could be avoided by doing a Will.

In short, the only effective way of ensuring that your Estate is distributed to those to whom you want the benefit to pass is to have a valid Will in place.

It is an expense that I can do without at the moment

We understand that for many, the thought of doing a Will is often quashed at inception by the thought of costs. Of course, the standard lawyer response to that is: “but what is the real cost to you and your estate if you don’t?”.  We know, because we see what happens when people don’t have a Will. The legal costs involved with an intestate estate are routinely several thousand dollars more than estates where the deceased died with a valid Will in place – and that is the best case scenario.

We frequently see intestate estates where the legal fees equal or exceed the value of the estate – simply due to the amount of litigation involved. In such circumstances, the unfortunate family member appointed as the Administrator (think Executor when there isn’t a Will) can be personally liable for the legal fees of the estate. When you think about it, what this means is that your loved ones could go through all of the stress of the process only to be landed with a bill to pay out of their own pocket at the end. That scenario is so easily avoided.

The good news is that the preparation of a Will does not have to be an expensive process at Davoren Associates our fee for a standard Will starts from $220 inclusive of GST.

I’m not quite ready yet as our situation is a bit complex – I just don’t know where to start

We can help with that! Blended families, step-children, ex spouses, de facto partners and family rifts are the bread and butter of Estate Law. Not to mention the complexity that can arise with the existence of family trusts, companies, self-managed superannuation funds and life insurance policies. It is true, estate law can be confusing, but our job is to guide you through the process of estate planning and to provide practical advice to assist you in working through any issues and laying down a framework aimed at minimising and/or avoiding disputes, and allowing for the smoothest possible administration of your estate when the time comes.

Making a Will is also a wonderful opportunity for you to get your affairs in order and to make up a folder of important documents in relation to your assets and liabilities, policies of insurance and superannuation entitlements for use by your executors. We are practised at simplifying the process and providing you with advice as to options aimed at keeping all parties happy and provided for. If you find it hard to think it through now, imagine how much harder it will be for your family to sort things out after you have passed. Don’t let your estate be just another number filling up the court system. Forewarned is forearmed – get a Will!

I don’t need to worry about doing a Will until I am about to retire or until I have something to leave

The wonderful thing about a well drafted Will is that it can take the future into account. Wills are drafted in such a way that you leave to your beneficiaries the estate that you have at the time of your death. You give what you have to give when you die. This means that even if you were to do  your Will at a point in time where you had few assets it will still take into account the assets that you have at the time of your death – even if they are substantially different. Having a Will in place – regardless of your financial circumstance reduces stress on your family and reduces the costs of sorting out your affairs when you die.

Wills usually also take into account the future with regard to your family and potential beneficiaries. We are often asked by clients to prepare a new Will for them when their spouse dies so that they can give their estate to their children. Often, after a careful reading of the Will, we can let them know that they do not need to redo the Will as their original Will contemplated the death of a spouse and that it already provides for the alternative that the Estate be divided amongst children.  However, it is certainly important to get a solicitor to check over your Will as your life circumstances change just to make sure that it still does what you want it to do.

It is also important to remember that a Will is not only about financial matters. You can you use your Will to appoint a person to be the testamentary guardian of your child or children in the event of your death. The thought of dying before our children reach adulthood is not something that many of us like to contemplate but it is such an important matter to consider and to ensure that appropriate arrangements will be in place. Finally, your Will can also be used to direct your executor as to matters such as burial or cremation and organ donation.

What is said after getting a Will?

Well now that we have addressed 4 excuses for not doing a Will, we can finish by telling you the most common things that people tell us just after signing their Will:

  1. “What a relief –I feel as though a weight has been taken off my shoulders”;
  2. “That wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be”;
  3. “I learned so much about how to organise my affairs to make it easier for my family when I pass”
  4. “That wasn’t so expensive after all!”

And just in case you are now thinking about doing a DIY Will kit, read on! Our next article is about what it can truly cost you and your estate if you opt for a Do It Yourself Will