Willed Australia

What Assets Can Be Included in A Will?

At some point in our lives, we all need to draft a Will. Your Will is a list of your final wishes and how you want things to be handled when you pass away. You're never too young to draft your Will and the best place to start is by making a list of everything you own - your assets - and include assets you own with someone else. Then you can decide how you want the assets to be distributed across your estate. The more specific you are, the better prepared your family will be when the day comes.

Make Your List Of Assets First.

So, how do you go about making this list of assets? Start by listing all of your assets and any debt you may have. This list should include:

  • All of the assets that in your name
  • All of the assets that you own with someone else, like a spouse or domestic partner
  • Assets that could come to you in the future from investments or insurance
  • Debts including your mortgage and any outstanding loans
  • Any type of business interest or partnership
  • How joint property assets are held: are your joint tenants or tenants in common? This makes a difference on how the property needs to be handled in your Will.

Your list should also include the following items, but you should speak with an expert about them before drawing up your final Will:

  • Any property you may own that is overseas
  • Assets that may have a mortgage or security of some type attached to them
  • Life insurance benefits that are left after debts are resolved
  • Business assets
  • Superannuation benefits
  • Any shares in a company or family trust

Review Your List Of Assets And Outline How They Should Be Handled.

Some assets are easy to handle, and some take a little thinking about. Here is how we recommend you review your assets.

1. Money That Can Be Used To Handle Outstanding Debt.

As much as we would love to leave all our cash to our children, it's not always possible. Allocate where the money will come from to pay for funeral expenses, medical expenses, probate costs and any other debt that may be left. This could be from savings, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Cash, checking accounts, savings accounts and money market accounts also need to be addressed. Double-check to make sure there is not Payable on Death (POD) designee on the accounts. If there is, your cash assets go right to that person. If there is no POD, mention how the cash is to be used in your Will.

2. Any Real Estate You May Own.

Do you own a home?

Do you own other property?

Are you a joint tenant or tenants in common?

You determine how real estate is handled, how the mortgage will be paid and who gets to live there. Of course, if you own the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship with your spouse or partner, the property goes to them, and you may not need to include it in your Will.

3. Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, And Anything That Is Not Part Of A Protected Retirement Account.

The nice thing about these assets is that you can assign them to individual beneficiaries or pool them together and give all your beneficiaries a slice of the pie. Review the beneficiaries on each policy and make any changes that you need to and then document it in your Will.

4. Allocate How Your Other Possessions Are Handled.

Don't be afraid to be sentimental when thinking about your possessions and who may or may not be interested in having this little part of you. Of course, you can leave everything to one person or designate someone to help parse out your possessions. If you are going to be in financial straits when you pass, you may decide to give your beneficiaries one thing and sell the rest. Carefully consider how to handle these assets.

5. Who Gets The Kids And Pets?

Guardianship of your pets and children should be an ongoing conversation, and your Will should be updated as life goes on. Make sure anyone you are considering as guardians for all of your children is kept in the conversation.

What Assets Cannot Be Included?

Finally, there are some assets that you cannot include in your Will. They include:

  • Compensation payments
  • Assets from being a joint tenant
  • Anything held in trust
  • Some types of superannuation
  • Certain types of physical property

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice

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Disclaimer: Willed is a technology platform that allows you to create your own estate planning solutions using our forms and other information. Willed is not a law firm and does not provide legal, financial, taxation or other advice. If you are unsure whether our estate planning solutions are suitable for your personal circumstances, legal advice should be sought from a law firm, such as Vault Legal.