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What are the most important things to put in a will?

When writing your will, it is important to consider how your passing may affect those you care about, and how to best prepare instructions and provisions for them. As a legal document, your Will outlines how your assets should be divided and who will receive them after your death. Your Will can include arrangements for the guardianship of dependants, distribution of sentimental objects, donations to charity and funeral wishes.

Guardianship

If you have children who are under 18, it is important to aside provisions, plans and resources for your family in the event of your death. This is covered under the concept of guardianship - a legal process where a person is given 'power' to make decisions on behalf of another person (generally a dependant) about personal matters.

A guardian is often another family member or trusted person, their role is to protect a person who lacks the legal power to make their own decisions.

If this has not been planned for, the state will appoint a guardian based on the child's next of kin and closeness to family relations.

Beneficiaries

A beneficiary is someone who will receive part of your estate, according to the preferences and instructions outlined in your Will. You can leave items such as specific objects (e.g. a piece of jewellery or art), shares, property and assets. Your Will should outline how your estate is divided and distributed to your chosen beneficiaries.

Common beneficiary choices include:

  • Family members
  • Friends and acquaintances
  • Charities or Not For Profits

Naming a charity as a beneficiary is a great way to leave a legacy that aligns with your values and beliefs. Many charities such as Beyond Blue rely on Gifts in Wills to fund additional support services to those in need around Australia.

Final wishes and funeral arrangements

Your Will can also outline any final wishes and funeral arrangements to be carried out by your Executor. If you have specific instructions such as preferences on service type, burial and location it is imperative to outline these in your Will.

As a legally binding document, it is important to ensure that your Will is clear and concise to ensure that your last wishes are carried out accurately and to avoid potential conflict amongst your beneficiaries.

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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