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Your Essential Guide to Writing a Will

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Secure Your Legacy for Peace of Mind

Writing a will is a crucial step in ensuring your legacy is handled according to your wishes in Australia. It’s not just about distributing assets; it’s about making a clear plan that protects your loved ones and avoids any potential disputes.

This article aims to simplify the process, breaking down the legalities and practical steps involved in creating a will.

Whether you’re approaching this task for the first time or looking to update your current documents, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to make this vital task as straightforward as possible.

This article covers the following points:

  1. Consider Your Assets
  2. Decide on Beneficiaries
  3. Choose an Executor
  4. Legal Requirements
  5. Seek Legal Advice
  6. Keep It Safe
  7. Will FAQs

Over 50 years experience in wills, estate planning and succession

We provide practical legal advice from people who care. Contact us today for a no obligation initial 15 minute consultation with one of our wills and estate legal experts.

1) Consider Your Assets

Identify all your assets, including property, investments, and personal belongings.

Considering your assets is the foundational step in preparing a will, requiring a thorough inventory of what you own.

This includes listing tangible items like real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings, as well as listing intangible assets such as investments, bank accounts, and life insurance policies.

Taking stock of your assets not only ensures a comprehensive distribution plan but also helps in identifying specific bequests you may wish to make. You should specify which asset goes to which beneficiary.

This process can highlight the value of your estate, guiding decisions about guardianship for minors, philanthropic legacies, and minimising potential estate taxes, thereby providing a clearer roadmap for executing your final wishes.

2) Decide on Beneficiaries

Determine who will inherit your assets. This can include family, friends, and charities.

Deciding who will inherit your assets is a critical aspect of preparing a will, as it determines how your estate will be divided among beneficiaries after your passing.

This decision can encompass family members, close friends, and even charitable organisations you wish to support.

It’s crucial to consider the needs and circumstances of potential beneficiaries, as well as any specific wishes you have regarding the distribution of your assets.

This process involves careful reflection and, often, discussions with those close to you to ensure that your legacy is passed on in alignment with your values and intentions.

3) Choose an Executor

Appoint a trusted person to carry out the instructions in your will.

Choosing an executor for your will is an important decision, as this person will be responsible for managing your estate and ensuring your wishes are carried out as outlined in your will.

It involves selecting someone you trust deeply, such as a family member, a close friend, or a professional like a wills and estate lawyer, who has the capability to handle legal, financial, and administrative tasks.

This choice should be made with consideration of the person’s willingness, ability to act impartially, and manage potentially complex estate affairs. It’s also wise to discuss your decision with them to ensure they are willing and prepared to take on this responsibility.

In Australia, meeting the legal requirements for a will is paramount to ensure its validity. 

Legal requirements include:

  • That you are over 18 years of age and of sound mind, indicating the capacity to understand the implications of the will being created.
  • The document must be written, clearly expressing the testator’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets.
  • Additionally, it requires the signatures of two witnesses, who are not beneficiaries of the will, to attest to the testator’s soundness of mind and voluntary nature of the will’s provisions.

These legal stipulations safeguard the will’s integrity, ensuring it reflects the testator’s genuine intentions without undue influence or coercion.

5) Seek Legal Advice

It’s wise to consult with a legal professional to navigate complex issues and ensure your will is valid and fulfils your wishes.

6) Keep It Safe

Store your will in a safe place and inform your executor of its location.

Storing a will securely is vital to ensure it is found and followed upon your passing. It’s recommended to keep the original document in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe at home, with a solicitor, or a bank’s safety deposit box.

Inform your executor, and possibly a trusted family member, of the will’s location without necessarily disclosing its contents.

Some choose to register their will with a wills registry in their jurisdiction, providing an added layer of security and ease in locating the document when needed.

Key Takeaways

This is a simplified guide. It’s crucial to consult with a wills and estate legal professional for detailed advice and to ensure your will accurately reflects your wishes and complies with Australian laws.

Preparing a Will: Secure Your Legacy with Randle & Taylor Barristers and Solicitors

At Randle & Taylor Barristers and Solicitors, we understand the importance of preparing a will to secure your legacy and ensure your final wishes are honoured. With over 50 years of experience in wills, estate planning, and succession law, our dedicated team based in Adelaide offers personalised and compassionate service to guide you through the process of preparing your will.

Why Choose Randle & Taylor for Your Will Preparation?

  • Expertise and experience. Benefit from our extensive experience in all aspects of wills and estate planning.
  • Personalised service. We listen to your unique situation to provide tailored advice and services.
  • Fixed fee options. We offer fixed fees for various will and estate planning services, providing clarity and transparency in pricing.

Our will preparation services include:

  • Drafting legally binding Wills
  • Testamentary Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives
  • Guidance on complex family situations
  • Estate Litigation and Dispute Resolution.

Securing Your Future Has Never Been Easier

Preparing a will is a critical step in managing your estate and protecting your loved ones. Our team at Randle & Taylor is committed to making this process as straightforward and stress-free as possible, providing you with peace of mind that your estate will be handled according to your wishes.

Write a Will FAQs

Yes, in Australia, you can legally write your own will. However, it’s important to ensure it complies with legal requirements, such as being over 18, of sound mind, and the will being in writing and signed by two witnesses. 

Given the complexity and the importance of ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes, seeking legal advice is often recommended to avoid potential disputes or issues with the will’s validity.

We provide practical legal advice from people who care. Contact us today for a no obligation initial 15 minute consultation with one of our wills and estate legal experts.

In Australia, the cost of writing a will varies depending on the method chosen. 

Solicitor-prepared wills can range from around $600 for a simple will to $3,000 for more complex ones. Public Trustees might offer will-writing services for free under certain conditions, such as for pensioners or those over 60. 

Alternatively, DIY will kits are available for about $30, though it’s recommended to have these checked by a professional to ensure they’re correctly completed​​.

Yes, handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills (legal terminology), are legal in Australia, provided they comply with the legislative requirements of the relevant state or territory’s Wills Act. 

These requirements typically include the will being written entirely by the testator (the person to whom the will belongs), and it should clearly outline the distribution of the testator’s assets upon their death. 

However, while creating a handwritten will is possible, it does carry inherent risks such as potential disputes, ambiguities during probate, and the possibility of the will being challenged due to perceived illegitimacy or inadequacies in covering complex estate situations.

Online wills are indeed legal in Australia, provided they meet the same legal requirements as traditional wills. 

These requirements include being properly signed and witnessed according to the laws of the specific state or territory. 

A digital will, when executed correctly (printed out, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two independent witnesses), is considered just as valid and legally binding as any will created through traditional means. 

The process for creating an online will typically involves answering questions and providing details through an online platform, which then generates a document that can be downloaded and executed.

You do not need a solicitor to make a will in Australia, but it’s often recommended, especially if your estate is complex. 

Online wills and DIY will kits are legal as long as they meet specific requirements, such as being signed and witnessed correctly. 

However, solicitors can provide valuable legal advice, ensure your will is valid and reflects your wishes accurately, and navigate more complex arrangements like trusts or large estates. 

While not mandatory, consulting with professionals, such as the wills and estate lawyers at Randle and Taylor can offer peace of mind and ensure your will stands up to legal scrutiny.

In Australia, wills do not need to be registered or lodged with any authority. It’s recommended to keep your will in a safe place and inform your executor(s) and family members about its location for ease of access when necessary​​.

For a will to be valid in Australia, it must be made by someone over 18 with mental capacity, intending to set out their wishes upon death. It needs to be in writing, signed by the will-maker in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the document. The will-maker should have knowledge and approval of the will’s contents, ensuring it reflects their final wishes without undue influence or coercion​​.

A will in Australia may be deemed invalid for several reasons, including if it wasn’t the last will made by the deceased, if the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will, if the deceased did not understand the will, if undue influence was exerted on the testator, if the will’s signature was forged, or if the will had been revoked​​.

If you die without a will in Australia, known as dying intestate, your estate will be distributed according to a set formula defined by law, and your affairs may be managed under a Supreme Court order through Letters of Administration. 

This process can be time-consuming and costly, both financially and emotionally, for your loved ones. The distribution of your assets will depend on your family structure and may not reflect your wishes​​.

We provide practical legal advice from people who care. Contact us today for a no obligation initial 15 minute consultation with one of our wills and estate legal experts.

In Australia, witnesses to a will must be mentally competent, able to see the will-maker sign, and not be blind or vision impaired. Beneficiaries of the will, including their spouses or partners, should not act as witnesses. The legal requirements include the presence of at least two witnesses during the signing​​.

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