Wills are an essential legal tool that allows individuals to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. In Australia, wills are governed by state and territory laws, which means there can be slight variations in the process and requirements depending on where you reside. If you’re in Perth, Western Australia, and need assistance with wills and estates matters, it’s advisable to consult experienced wills lawyers in Perth WA. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the fundamentals of how will work in Australia, including how to make a will and the importance of updating it.
Understanding The Basics
A will, also known as a “last will and testament,” is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets, the appointment of an executor, and the care of any dependents after your death. It is important to note that if you pass away without a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of your state or territory, which may not align with your preferences.
Making A Will
Creating a will can provide peace of mind and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. While it is possible to draft your own will, it is highly recommended to seek professional guidance from wills lawyers in Perth WA to ensure your document is legally valid and covers all essential aspects. Here are the general steps involved in making a will:
Consultation: Begin by consulting a wills lawyer who can guide you through the process and provide expert advice tailored to your specific circumstances. They will help you understand the legal requirements and assist you in making informed decisions.
Asset Inventory: Take stock of all your assets, including properties, investments, bank accounts, vehicles, and personal belongings. This inventory will help determine the scope of your will and ensure all assets are properly accounted for.
Appointing an Executor: An executor is responsible for administering your estate according to your wishes. Choose a trusted individual or a professional executor (such as a lawyer) who will carry out your instructions faithfully.
Distributing Assets: Decide how you want your assets distributed and to whom. This may include family members, friends, charitable organizations, or any other beneficiaries you wish to include.
Guardianship: If you have minor children, you can use your will to appoint a guardian who will take care of them in the event of your death. Discuss this matter with potential guardians before making a decision.
Drafting the Will: With the assistance of your wills lawyer, draft your will, ensuring it complies with the legal requirements of your state or territory. It should be clear, unambiguous, and properly signed and witnessed.
Signing and Witnessing: Your will must be signed by you and witnessed by two independent individuals who are over the age of 18 and not beneficiaries of your will. This witnessing process is crucial to validate your will.
Safekeeping: Store your will in a secure location, such as a safety deposit box or with your lawyer, and inform your executor and loved ones of its whereabouts.
Updating Your Will
While creating a will is an important step, it’s equally crucial to review and update it periodically, especially when significant life events occur. Failing to updating your will can lead to unintended consequences and potential disputes. Here are some situations when you should consider updating your will:
Marriage or Divorce: When you get married or divorced, it is essential to review your will and make any necessary amendments. In some cases, marriage can automatically revoke an existing will, highlighting the importance of updating it promptly.
Birth or Adoption of Children: The arrival of a new child or the adoption of a child should prompt you to revisit your will and consider provisions for their care and inheritance.
Changes in Financial Circumstances: If your financial situation undergoes significant changes, such as acquiring new assets, selling properties, or starting a business, you should ensure your will reflects these updates.
Changing Beneficiary Designations: If you wish to add or remove beneficiaries from your will, it’s crucial to make the necessary changes to ensure your assets are distributed according to your current wishes.
The executor or Guardian Changes: If the appointed executor or guardian is no longer suitable or available, it is essential to update your will accordingly.
Making a will is a responsible step to safeguard your assets and ensure your loved ones are taken care of after your passing. Seek the guidance of experienced wills lawyers in Perth WA to navigate the legal complexities and create a valid will that accurately reflects your intentions. Remember to review and update your will regularly to align with any changes in your personal, financial, or family circumstances. By taking these proactive measures, you can provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones, knowing that your wishes will be respected when the time comes.