What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death.
You can include a variety of instructions in your Will, including:
- How your property is to be distributed including any specific gifts
- Who is to be responsible for dealing with your property after your death
- Who is to look after your children or pets following your death
- How your remains are to be dealt with
You will also appoint an executor in your Will who will carry out your instructions on your behalf.
There are very strict requirements [Wills Act 1936 (SA) s 8] that must be met for a Will to be valid and an experienced Wills lawyer can talk you through these requirements, these include:
- must be in writing
- be signed at the end by the testator or by some other person in the presence, and at the direction, of the testator
- appear from the will that the testator intended to give effect to the will by signing it
- be signed by the testator or the signature must be acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time
- then signed by witnesses who sign their names as witnesses to the will in the presence of the testator but not necessarily in the presence of each other.
If these requirements are not met, the estate may be dealt with as if there were no Will, unless the court orders otherwise. This is one of the most important reasons why you should have your Will drawn up by an experienced Wills Lawyer.
Why do I need a Will?
A valid Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are clear and followed.
If you die without a valid Will then you will have died ‘intestate’ which means that your estate will be distributed in accordance with a formula provided for in the legislation.
If you die intestate you will have no control over what happens to your estate and your property, including any sentimental items, which may be distributed to someone against your wishes.
There are also added expenses when people die intestate which reduces that amount of your estate that your loved ones will receive.
Can I use a DIY Will kit?
Most people aren’t aware of the dangers that come with do-it-yourself Will kits.
The dangers of DIY Will kits include:
- That the Will may not meet the strict requirements of a Will which means that you may be held to have died intestate
- That the Will does not actually do what you intended
- That you do not minimise the risk of someone intentionally left out of the Will making a claim for a portion of your estate
It is best to ensure that you have your Will drafted correctly from the outset to avoid any issues following your death.
I already have a Will, do I need a new one?
It is important to regularly update your Will as your circumstances will likely change.
Certain life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren, the death of a beneficiary or the procurement or disposal of assets may all affect your Will.
What do I need to do?
Contact Lindbloms Lawyers to make an appointment with one of our friendly lawyers to discuss making a Will.