The importance of having a valid will

Misconceptions of wills

The following are common misconceptions of wills:

  • Your estate will automatically go to your spouse and/or children.  This is not always the case.  If you die without a will, it means you have died intestate, and that the intestacy laws of the state will apply and determine how your will is distributed.
  • If you don’t update your will following divorce, your estate will go to your former spouse.  Marriage and divorce automatically cancel your will, so if you do not have an up to date will, your estate would fall under the intestacy laws.
  • Wills are for the generation now retiring.  This is simply untrue and risky.  Everyone has the right to decide who benefits from their estate following their death.  If something was to happen to you, who benefits from your estate, what happens to your pets and importantly what does the future look like for any children you may have?
  • A de facto partner is not entitled to anything.  In 1998 rules changed to provide that de facto partners may have the same rights as spouses.  However, your de facto partner may not automatically be entitled to benefit from your estate or receive assets that you want that person to retain.

The importance of a will

If you have a current valid will, the people you really want to benefit from your estate will receive the benefits that are nominated by you in your will.  You can nominate the person(s) (executor(s)) you want to look after your estate and ensure that your wishes are carried out.  Not only will a valid will provide for your wishes, but it may also lessen the emotional impact for your loved ones.

If you were to pass away leaving children under the age of 18, your will can detail your wishes regarding your children including:

  • who you wish to care of your children
  • at what age(s) you want them to receive any benefits from the will
  • arrangements for their education
  • things you want them to achieve (such as travel)

What you should do

To avoid your assets being distributed according to law (intestacy), a professionally prepared will can also assist with the efficient and timely administration of your estate and in accordance with your wishes.  Icon Legal can assist you with this.

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