Taking our mind there isn’t pleasant. However, being a good parent is sometimes about stepping up and doing the unpleasant but essential jobs.
And yes, it is an essential job. You may think that your wishes are well known but your ‘Will’ will remove all doubt as to who you want the guardian of your children to be and how you wish to distribute your wealth.
Where do I start?
1. Just do it already. Get started.
If your situation, family affairs and circumstances aren’t complicated then downloading a Legal Will Kit may be the easiest option for you. This provides the basic guidelines for making your own legal will. It will go through the types of things you will have to include. If you feel you need additional advice on legal matters and your situation is not so straightforward then you can get in touch with your solicitor. There are some solicitors who specialise in doing wills, but any solicitor should be able to either help you or point you to in the right direction.
2. Choosing an Executor
Who you choose is up to you but this person has to be trustworthy. They must be willing to take on the role. They have to be over 18, able to manage details and be healthy. No point using someone who is about to drop off the perch any old minute. You may find you wish to appoint more than one Executor. They may or may not be a beneficiary.
Think about who you want to receive items from your estate. OOOOOh the power. These can be individuals, a group or and organisation. You will need a complete list … Name, occupation, address
4. Guardianship of Children
The guardian is the person you choose to care and advise your children in the event they are left without both natural parents. If you die Interstate (without a will) the court may appoint a guardian and it may not be someone you would have chosen. Think about who you think is suitable and also who the children get along with. Discuss your intentions with these people and the implications of the role. Choose a substitute guardian as well in the event your first choice can’t or won’t take on the role after you die.
5. A trust for minors
This is to keep assets aside for your young children. You can nominate the age when they are to benefit. The executor will have the power to release the funds as necessary.
6. Prepare list of assets, debts and liabilities
Assets include bank accounts, investments, shares, real estate, insurance, superannuation, vehicles, etc. Debts and liabilities are things like the mortgage on your home, personal loans, credit cards, tax owed, etc.
7. Organ donation etc.
You may have specific requests regarding the disposal of your body. You may wish to donate your organs to be used for medical research purposes. You may want your ashes to be rocketed into space.
A legal Will must be signed and dated in front of witnesses. You will need two adults of sound mind to witness. They cannot be beneficiaries or the partners of beneficiaries. The Executor cannot be a witness either. All 3 (you and both witnesses) must be present to sign, date and witness with the same pen used to write the will. This is important.
Changing a Will
Updates to your Will should be done whenever there is any change in your circumstances. You can’t just write one and forget about it. Your relationship may change. Marriage, divorce, separation, de facto relationships.etc You may change your mind about the beneficiaries, guardians and even the Executor named in your Will.
Storing a Will
When your Will is required you won’t be around to dig it out of the crevice in the fireplace so make sure the Executor knows where the original is. It should not be kept in your home. It is a good idea to keep a copy with your personal papers so you can review it at any time. The original can be stored at the bank where your mortgage papers are held, a safety deposit box (Executor will need a key) or with the Executor. If anything should happen to the Executor and or Original will , you at least have the copy and have a new Will drawn up.
So just do it. Stop putting it off.You know you should have one.