Considering whether or not you need a Will can be a daunting process. Before you even start, you might think: What do I need to write a Will? Am I at that point in my life where this is actually necessary? Aren’t they just for people with large estates or the elderly?
There are a lot of misconceptions about the process behind writing a Will, and popular culture often paints them only for the wealthy with the help of a lawyer. But you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of writing a Will.
A Will doesn’t just allow you to provide instructions for distributing your estate, but it also allows you to outline key details concerning your funeral, gifts to your favourite charities, and any final messages you want to read by your loved ones.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at what you need to start writing your Will.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legally binding document that provides formal direction on distributing your assets after your death. A standard Will typically consists of an executor who will manage your estate, the assets of your estate and beneficiaries who will receive one or more of your assets. Writing a Will clarifies your final wishes so you can prevent confusion, fees and disputes.
Who can write a Will?
Before it’s too late, everyone should write a Will. However, before you start writing your Will, you must meet two requirements:
- You must be 18 years or older.
- You must be of sound mind, which means you:
- Understand the legal effect of your Will
- Know the extent of your assets
- Know the people who are expected to benefit from your estate
How to get started?
Once you’ve determined you’re the right age, and of sound mind, you can begin exploring your options for where you’ll write your Will.
Choose where to write your Will
There are a few different options for writing your Will. Using a DIY Will kit is technically legal, but if done incorrectly, your Will may be invalid. However, engaging a lawyer or solicitor can be expensive and is usually best for those with large, complex estates.
Online Wills are a great option for those looking for a cost-effective and straightforward way to create a Will. For example, Willed is a secure online platform that offers a step by step questionnaire to guide you through each element of the Will.
Our team of Will experts provide checks at no extra cost before you print and sign. However, for your Will to be legally binding, you need to physically sign the document on each page, and witnesses must verify it’s a real document.
Make a list of all your assets and debts
Before you start writing your Will, it can help to create a list of all your assets and debts. By creating a complete inventory of your estate, you can ensure that you don’t miss anything and that you provide clear instructions on managing each asset.
You should include savings accounts, debts, physical gifts, vehicles, property, shares and any other assets you want to pass on. However, don’t include joint accounts, jointly-owned property, life insurance or anything you don’t own outright in your Will.
Nominate an Executor
When creating a Will, you’ll need to nominate an executor. The executor is responsible for managing and administering your estate. You can have one or more executors, and you should choose someone you trust to act in your best interest.
Another option is to use a third-party service as your executor. This option is more objective and guarantees that dividing your estate is conducted fairly and reasonably.
List your beneficiaries
Once you have decided on your executor, you’ll need to consider who you wish to nominate as your beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries are individuals who will receive a portion or all of your estate.
Typically, your beneficiaries are your spouse or partner, children, close family or friends. You can also leave gifts to charities. These are called a bequest.
What happens if you don’t have a Will?
It’s estimated that half of all Australians die without a valid Will, also known as dying intestate. Intestacy law dictates that your next of kin is the primary beneficiary when you die without a Will, and your estate will be divided amongst your kin accordingly. If you don’t have any family, the estate passes to the state or territory public trustee.
Understanding what you need to start writing your Will is the first step to preparing your estate and protecting your assets after you pass away. Being prepared with a Will allows you to decide what happens after you die, including instructions for your finances, personal effects, physical possession and funeral arrangements.
Writing your Will need not take a long time. Using Willed’s human-centred technology, you can write your Will in just 15 minutes. To start, visit Willed.