If you die without a legal will, family arguments will be hard to avoid. Even if your loved ones agree about who should get what, without a will it won’t necessarily be their decision to make: legislation will dictate asset dispersal and even the guardianship of children. Making adequate provision for your dependents can save considerable costs and conflict.
If you own property, you should definitely have a will, and should review it every five years or as financial and family circumstances change (e.g., divorce, remarriage or the birth of a child).
A good starting point is to make an inventory of significant assets and liabilities, Include property, shares, superannuation, cash, insurance policies and jewelry, as well as a description of your current family situation.
Decisions about how to divide assets can be tricky. There may be further complicating factors, such as needing to make provision for lifelong support for a disabled child, adult children from a previous relationship, or a relative who has borrowed money from you.
Facing up to the task brings the comfort of knowing that your nearest and dearest will be helped in the way you choose, when you’re not around to oversee it.
Some key issues to consider:
• If you have a partner, you each need a will.
• If property is jointly owned, does it all go to the surviving partner? What happens if they remarry?
• Do you wish to include a charity bequest?
• Your will should be appropriately witnessed to be legal, and you need to name an executorto handle your affairs after your death.