Lawyer for wills: Your last will and testament
Have you planned what you want to happen with your assets after you pass on? Have you made a record of your plans by making a valid will?
Call us on 02 8014 5839 so that we can help you prepare your will so that your wishes are properly recorded.
When a person dies, their financial affairs have to be finalised. That means that their assets are used to pay their funeral and testamentary expenses and any debts and the surplus is then divided amongst their beneficiaries. You might like to choose your beneficiaries and state what gift should be left to each beneficiary – that is making a will.
CKB helps people with the distribution of the assets of loved ones who have passed away. Administration of an Estate is much more efficient if there is a valid will but CKB also assists people in cases where the deceased did not leave a valid will (called “intestacy”) – see the information on estate administration here.
Do you have a will? Do you want to change your existing will?
If you do not have a will or if you are re-considering your existing arrangements then call us on 02 8014 5839 or send us an email to discuss what you want to achieve. Please also read the following general information.
Benefits of a will
A valid will sets out your wishes on:
- the people that you want to give your assets to;
- what each person (or charity) should be given;
- if one of your assets is subject to a mortgage or other form of security than normally a gift of that asset is subject to the beneficiary paying off the debt or obligation that is secured over the asset. You may think it better to state which assets should be firstly used to pay off any debts.
- you may not want specific people to receive anything that they might receive if you did not have a will – legislation sets out a system where various categories of family members can receive your assets if there is no valid will. Not having a valid will is called “intestate” or “intestacy”;
- a will avoids the risk that if there are no family members alive who are entitled to a share under intestacy laws, then all of your property goes to the state government;
- you can record any preference that you have as to the type of ceremony and also what happens with your remains – whether you are to be buried or cremated;
- the person or persons who you trust to act as your executor – this is the person who carries out the distribution of your property.
Change in circumstances – your circumstances may change over the years. Have you thought about your current will? We suggest that you should think about your will every few years and consider whether it is prudent to change some of the gifts.
Your assets may have increased or the financial position of a beneficiary may have improved significantly so that your current plans may not be appropriate. Another potential beneficiary may have fallen upon hard times and may need a larger share.
There may be a significant change in your personal affairs. Someone who plays a significant part in your life may not be mentioned in the will. Marriage certainly revokes a will, unless you made a specific will in contemplation of your marriage.
Call us on 02 8014 5839 to discuss how you would like to change your arrangements.
What assets can be given by will?
Not all of your “assets” or “property” can be given away by your will when you die. Some assets are not governed by a will and may not form part of your estate. For example, the following classes of asset are not subject to a will or intestacy rules:
- “Jointly” owned assets are subject to inheritance by survivorship. For example the family home of a couple is often owned by them as “joint tenants”. Property can be owned by 2 or more joint tenants. If one of the joint tenants dies then the surviving joint tenant(s) automatically own the share previously owned by the deceased joint tenant. The “share” owned by the deceased during his or her lifetime does not actually form part of his or her estate.
- The other form of ownership by 2 or more people is known as “tenants in common” in agreed shares which do not have to be equal shares – there is no right of survivorship and the interest of a deceased owner passes to that person’s estate according to wills or intestacy rules. That share of the asset is available for payment of funeral and testamentary expenses and debts, and then for beneficiaries;
- Life insurance policies over the life of the deceased person may be owned by some other person who is entitled to receive the policy proceeds rather than owned by the deceased;
- Superannuation benefits – the rules of the superannuation fund determine who is entitled to the death benefits, or there may be a Binding Death Benefit Nomination in place;
- Trust funds – the rules of the fund and its accounts from prior years determine whether a person has any rights to be paid money or other assets from the fund;
- Assets which are owned subject to a security such as a mortgage or charge can only be given subject to the need to pay off the mortgage debt (or obligation) either from the asset or from some other source.
Call us on 02 8014 5839 to discuss your testamentary wishes.