Creating a valid will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your loved ones. Here we explain how to go about it.

Seek legal advice

While DIY will kits can seem like an easy and inexpensive way to make a will, they can be fraught with pitfalls.

Your affairs are probably more complex than you think – your family home or Refundable Accommodation Deposit, pensions, investments and belongings. Having a properly drawn up will helps to determine who gets what and can save your family time and stress when you are gone.  And ensure that what you wish to occur, actually happens.

Your lawyer or financial planner will also be able to provide insights into how to best structure your will, both to protect assets and to minimise tax. Examples include setting up a testamentary trust to provide for minors or vulnerable adult children, or to protect your estate from creditors.

Safeguard your children’s future

Probably one of the most important reasons to make a will is to ensure any dependent children are well cared for should the worst happen. Sydney wills, probate and estate specialist, Graeme Heckenburg of Heckenberg Lawyers, says generally parents should make separate rather than joint wills, as they are likely to die at different times.

You may also need to consider the needs of your adult children.  Are they in a vulnerable position?  Do you dislike their partner and would rather they didn’t receive part of your funds?  Are they facing divorce and you’d rather your inheritance wasn’t included in the marital assets?  Do your children face bankruptcy or have substance abuse issues?  Some may be spendthrifts and receiving a large sum of money may not be in their best interests.

You may desire that certain items to go certain people and want to be sure that this wish is fulfilled.  Legal advice is vital in these situations.

Keep your will updated

Once you have made a will, don’t just leave it in a drawer.  Circumstances change over time, so ensure your will reflects your current situation, particularly if your spouse has died, you have married or divorced or you have become a parent or step-parent.  You may wish to consider grand-children in your Will or have perviously gifted items to people you no longer are in touch with.  Reviewing regularly is a good idea!

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