Frequently Asked Questions
My Estate is small so why do I need a Will?
The size of your estate is irrelevant. The cost of getting a grant of administration can run into thousands of dollars. If an estate is small and involves only a small amount of money in a bank account the cost of getting a grant of administration may be greater than the balance of the bank account. Having a Will will generally alleviate the need to apply for a grant of administration for small estates. If your estate does not cover the costs of the grant of administration, your family may be forced to pay for these unnecessary costs. No estate is too small to not justify the preparation of a Will.
My spouse will get everything anyway, so why do I need a Will?
What happens if your spouse dies before you or at the same time as you? What would then happen to your children? Who will know your wishes in relation to their welfare and upbringing? What will happen to your superannuation? Assets that aren’t jointly owned will not necessarily go to your spouse. This is determined by legislation. You shouldn’t therefore assume that all of your assets will go to your spouse.
I don’t have any family, so why do I need a Will?
When you die, your estate must be dealt with by someone and your assets will be disposed of to someone. Legislation provides that if there is no family or next of kin, then the end recipient will be the Government. Is this what you really want to happen? You might prefer that a benefit go to a charity of your choice rather than a donation to consolidated revenue. Having a Will makes it easier for the pieces to be picked up when you are gone.
I already have a Will that was drafted years ago so why should I change it?
It is important to review all Wills at least every three years to determine validity and applicability. Your circumstances change – you buy and sell assets, children are born, your structures can change and relationships change. For example, your executor may now not be willing and able to stand in that role when you die. You may have children or business entities where weren’t born or in existence at the time your old Will was drawn.
Old Wills may be as effective as having no Will at all, or could even result in your estate not being dealt with in accordance with your wishes or being contested.
Wills are Expensive so why should I have to go to that expense now?
The cost of Will preparation does not vary due to the size of your estate. They vary in expense depending on the complexity of your personal affairs. If you don’t have a Will or have an invalid Will, the cost of an application for a grant of administration can be more expensive that the cost of a Will. You can’t put a price on the peace of mind if you pay for a Will now as it acts like an insurance policy to ensure that your personal effects go to those persons who you want to receive them, and to ensure that your estate is administered in an efficient and timely manner without financial burden to your family.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Simple Will Kit and do it myself?
Whilst having a Will is better than not having a Will in most cases, the Law of Succession planning is complex and fraught with traps for the unweary player. If you get it wrong then it can end up being a very costly mistake(s). Do you know what happens with your family trust, or your corporate trustee? Do you know what sort of taxes superannuation may attract if it’s willed to a non-dependant beneficiary? Do you know what can happen if you leave someone out of your Will? Do you know that leaving assets to some beneficiaries may result in them losing their Centrelink entitlements? It is unlikely that your do-it-yourself Will contains the asset protection and taxation benefits of a Will which has been prepared specifically for your personal circumstances.
Why do some People offer to prepare Wills for no charge?
The old saying, nothing is free, is true here. It is not uncommon for law firms or Trustee companies to offer their estate planning services for no charge. However the “devil is in the detail”. Conditions usually are attached which specify that when you die they will be appointed as executors of the Will. This is when the charges come into play. Usually a percentage fee is charged based on the value of your estate assets. This can be as high as 5%. For example, even if your only asset was your family home valued at $600,000, the fee could be as high as $30,000. This can result in a huge financial burden on your family members.