Many people put off making a Will – but if you die without a properly made Will, you are said to have died intestate. In this situation your estate will be settled according to the provisions of the Administration Act. The Act divides your estate in set proportions amongst your surviving spouse, children and/or immediate family. Almost inevitably the result is that your estate is divided in a manner different to how you would have wished and the process of administering your estate is more drawn out and potentially more expensive.
There are many options that you can include in your Will, from your funeral directions to specific gifts and how the balance of your estate is to be divided.
If you have a child with special needs, it is possible to set up a Testamentary Trust in your Will, to ensure that the child’s needs are met during their lifetime.
It may be advisable to leave your surviving spouse a life interest only in your share of a house property or other investments. This can suit second or subsequent relationships and can have the additional benefit of the surviving spouse having less assets in their name if they are later asset tested for eligibility for a subsidy.
Even if you have a Will don’t forget that it is a document that needs to be reviewed from time to time as your circumstances change. A good rule of thumb is to review every five years or if something significant happens in the meantime. There are certain events which make it absolutely essential to update your Will. For example, if you marry or remarry, your Will is automatically revoked, unless it was made in contemplation of that marriage. Likewise, if your relationship comes to an end or your marriage is dissolved, or if you have wound up your Family Trust your Will should be reviewed.
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