Everyone needs a will even if you expect to live another 40 years.
Without a will, a portion of your estate may be lost to fees and administration and more importantly who and how you would like your assets to be distributed may not be in accordance with your wishes.
What Happens If I Die without a Will?
When someone dies without having made a Will or without a valid Tasmanian Will, you are said to die "intestate". Your estate may not be divided according to your wishes because the law (Intestacy Act 2010) sets out how your estate will be distributed.
Dying without a will may lead to some or all of the following problems for those surviving you:
• Your next-of-kin will usually be left to sort everything out. Such a process often incurs expensive legal and Court costs.
• There can be significant costs in both dollars and time in dealing with the responsibilities associated with the administration of the estate.
• Our assets must be distributed in a set order of distribution according to strict legal requirements which may be unintended and/or impractical.
When should you review your Will?
When your circumstances change, for example:
• starting a business;
• getting married, or divorced;
• starting a family;
• inheriting assets; or
• buying or selling a home.
Your will should be reviewed periodically to ensure that if your current circumstances have changed your will still does what you want it to.
What assets make up your estate?
Not all assets are considered to be assets that are capable of being distributed through your Will. Only assets which you own in our own individual name can be distributed through your will.
Some examples of assets which are non-estate assets are:
• Discretionary Trusts;
• Assets owned in joint names;
• Company or Business assets; and
• Superannuation Funds.
Special attention needs to be paid to planning for distribution of non-estate assets by means other than through your will. Further, there are numerous tax exemptions and concessions that affect these types of structures. You should consult with your accountant about these issues.
Can I use a “Do-It-Yourself” Will kit?
Yes you can make a will yourself, however we do not recommend it. The main reason being that if you haven’t done it correctly, when you die you will effectively die without a valid will and the intestacy laws referred to above will apply to the distribution of your assets.
Any apparent savings in “do-it-yourself” will kits are commonly lost many times over in legal fees which are incurred by your family after you die.
Lawyers are qualified and experienced in obtaining accurate and complete instructions and will also provide for the placement of your wills in safe custody, usually at no charge. It is of no help if you make a will which cannot be located.
If you are interested in having a will prepared or would like assistance in reviewing your current will, please call us on 6332 9353 to make an appointment with one of our lawyers.
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