Creating a Will
Despite the marketing about the complexities of writing a valid Will, it is the most important thing you can do to ensure your wishes are carried out after you die.
A Will or a Power of Attorney?
A Will is not to be confused with a Power of Attorney. The easiest way to distinguish between these two documents is to remember a Power of Attorney applies while you are alive, while your Will applies after you die.
Your Will, at a minimum, should clearly state:
- Your Executor/s. The Executor is the person who manages and distributes your Estate to your beneficiaries. In choosing Executors you should have full confidence in their honesty, skills, and knowledge to pay Estate debts and expenses and to properly (legally) distribute the Estate. Depending on the assets in the Estate, it may not be an easy role. Also, consider the age of your Executors – it is sensible to appoint someone who has sufficient maturity, but who is also likely to outlive you, so they can take up their Executor duties.
- Your beneficiaries, and the gifts that you wish to be given to those beneficiaries.
- The name of two witnesses (who are not beneficiaries or related to any beneficiary) who must both acknowledge, and sign the Will in your presence.
- Your signature, placed on the Will in the presence of the two witnesses.
In addition to the above, your Will is only valid if you:
• Are 18 years of age or older,
• Made the Will voluntarily without being bullied or pressured into making it by any person, and
• Understand what your Will states.
Informing your family and other beneficiaries of your wishes after death, and discussing any concerns they may have about your intentions, may go a long way to ensure your Will is not challenged after your death.
Your Will does not need to be complex and it certainly shouldn’t be complicated. You may consider completing a DYI Will kit, available at newsagents and office suppliers. However, given the importance of capturing the terms of your Will to your satisfaction while meeting all legal requirements, it is important to seek professional support.