'Where there's a WILL there's a way'

For so many old sayings, there's much substance in their meaning.  This one is no less so.

It's a fact that in this country, Australia, more than 50,000 people die each year intestate (without making a will).  Is that bad?  If yes, what are the advantages of making one?  What might it cost?  Can it be changed if my circumstance do?

These are all valid questions and we'll endeavour to answer them so that you'll be better equipped, if and when you decide to make a will.

Why make a will?

The most important reason is the security you'll feel when you take that step.

Whether your estate is multi-million dollar, large, moderate or small, if you have any assets or a single asset and you die, do you not want to leave those or it to someone you love?  Other key benefits of making a Will are:

  • Secure your children's future   If your children are under 18, you can choose to nominate guardians for them in your Will and make arrangements for their maintenance and education
  • Marriage    It isn't commonly known that marriage automatically cancels all previous Wills.  So if you have made a will before you married and still want to continue to provide for those beneficiaries or make arrangements to cater for the new circumstances, you  must make a new Will
  • Divorce     A Will is revoked if the marriage ends in divorce (some specifics will apply here)
  • Defacto relationships  If you die without a Will your defacto partner might not automatically be entitled to your estate.  He or she might stand to lose the assets and treasured mementos that you want them to have
  • Early distribution of estate  A professionally drawn and executed Will greatly assists in the efficient administration of your estate and the early distribution of your assets to the beneficiaries you've named.
  • Decide who benefits  If you die intestate (no Will), your estate is divided according to the law and you will have no say in how your assets are distributed
  • Choose your executor  When you make a Will, you appoint an executor who is responsible for looking after your estate and distributing your assets according to the instructions contained in your Will

Is my life insurance and superannuation included?

An often-asked question.  The answer is no.  Both fall outside of your will's provisions.

With each, you have the provision of ownership and nomination of beneficiaries.  Depending on the circumstances usually the owner of a life insurance policy is the person insured.

With super, you are wise to use a binding nomination, which, unless revoked, sets in concrete the person to whom you want to leave the proceeds.

What about the cost? 

First off, let's briefly summarise our opening questions.  We've provided details as to why you should make a will and have specified what the advantages are.  You'll also see that your will can be changed.  It is revoked in the case of marriage, remarriage and n divorce.  How much does a Will cost to make?

There are several ways to do it. You can buy or even download will-kit fir free.  The Public Trustee in most states will do them for you at no cost also.  Queensland readers can visit www.pt.qld.gov.au/wills/ 

Finally the most secure and non-contestable Wills are those made through a solicitor.  Costs will vary depending on the complexity of your situation, but simple wills start from about $400.00

About the author:  Paul Herring Dip FS

Paul is Adviser Principal of life-risk insurance and superannuation advisory firm PCH Financial, and provides business writing services at PCH Words that Sell.
PCH Financial is the developer of the LEAP© Concept. Paul says this
means the firm’s advisers: 

— Listen...to your key aspirations, your goals and your concerns
— Evaluate...where you are now and what you might need to do to get where you want to be  
— Advise...and if the above indicates it’s necessary, we suggest a...
— Procedure...which will free you up to do what you do best - work on the other things