How to write your own Will – DON’T! - JHK Legal Commercial Lawyers

8 July 2019

How to write your own Will – DON’T!

Life sure is busy, huh?

Between work, kids’ birthday parties, making sure there is food in the fridge, the bills are paid, you keep in touch with your family and friends and are up to date with your favourite Netflix show, there is a lot to do.

So, when someone says, “Hey, do you have a current Will?”, it is no wonder why most people’s response is something along of the lines of…

“No – why would I need to do that.”

“That’s so morbid! I don’t want to think of things like that.”

“I don’t have anything worthwhile leaving to anyone – there is no point.”

“I am young, fit and healthy – there’s plenty of time for that when I am ready to retire.”

“A Will?! What do I care?! I’ll be in a better place – let the kids fight it out!”

Look, we get it. You have plenty of other things to worry about without having to think about what will happen once you have passed away. But look at it this way:

  1.  You will (or already have) spent your whole life working hard to build a legacy – don’t you want to control where that legacy ends up and who benefits from it?
  2. You have a young family, so wouldn’t you want to know that they will be looked after, after you are gone?
  3. You likely spend a good chunk of money on insurances – health insurance, house and contents insurance, car insurance, income protection insurance, pet insurance. Why? To protect your assets and your family, most likely. A Will is another, very important, way to protect your assets and your family.
  4. While you might not care too much about what happens to your assets after you have gone, having a Will means that the people you love and leave behind don’t have to worry about how you would have wanted to divvy up your things at the same time that they are dealing with the loss of you.

These things matter. And while Wills sound scary, our team at JHK Legal are ready to help you put in place the best plan for you and your family.

Some things to think about when making your Will

Now that you know why a Will is so important, let’s talk about a few key things you need to think about when making your Will:

  1. Your executor/s: This is the person or the people who will carry out your wishes under your Will.  They will manage your estate, take care of all necessary arrangements, like paying your debts, and make sure things happen as you intended them to. Your executor should be someone you trust, like a family member or a good friend. It can also be professional person, like an accountant or a lawyer.  You can choose more than one executor and have them work together in this role. We also recommend that you appoint an alternative executor if for some reason your primary executor cannot or is unwilling to act. You might like to choose your spouse, parent, sibling or best friend – and if you are having a hard time picking an executor – we are happy to talk this out with you.
  2. Your beneficiaries: The beneficiaries are the people you want to benefit from your estate. This could be members of your family, your close friends or even a charity. Some people decide to leave their entire estate to their partner first and then to their children equally if their partner has predeceased (dies before them). On the other hand, some people like to leave parts of their estate to various members of their circle. You can leave different assets or shares of assets to different people – it is completely up to you and we are here to help you phrase your Will so that your wishes are clear.
  3. Specific gifts: Your wedding ring, a collector’s item or your household contents – you can make specific gifts to certain people under your Will. BUT, specific gifts can be a little tricky and it is ALWAYS a good idea to talk to us if you want to leave something special to your brother or your best friend.  If you don’t get advice, you risk the gift failing and your most prized possessions being lumped in with the rest of your estate.
  4. Guardians:  A VERY important consideration. If you die leaving minor children (that is, kids under the age of 18) and they have no other surviving parent, who will you appoint as their guardian?  There is plenty of things to think about when deciding who will look after your children – where do they live, do your kids have a good relationship with them, what kind of parent are they/would they be?  We are here to help – and we tend to think of all the practical things so you can focus on who you think will best look after your family for you.
  5. Families:  Everyone’s family is different and that means that sometimes you need to consider how best to structure your Will to take into account these differences. For example:
    • Do any of your children have higher needs which will need to be accounted for in your Will?
    • Are your children very young? Should there be a testamentary trust in place whereby someone will manage your children’s shares in your estate until they are older? What even IS a testamentary trust and do I need one?
    • Has one of your children benefited more during your lifetime and accordingly, you want your other children to benefit more from your Will? Do you think there is a risk that this could cause a dispute?
    • Do you have children from a previous relationship who you would like to provide specifically for in your Will?

We know that these types of considerations can be difficult and, in many ways, very emotional. Our approachable and knowledgeable team are here to help you with making tough decisions and can give you advice about how best to protect your assets and, as far as possible, avoid estate challenges.

Our top tips and tricks for making your Will

Ready to make your Will?  Here’s our top tips and tricks for you:

  1. How to make your own Will – DON’T!  You should always see a Wills and Estates lawyer when thinking about making a Will. Sure, you can buy a cookie cutter, DIY Will kit from the post office, BUT these tend to open you up for all kinds of issues, such as challenges about the proper construction of your Will, the failure of specific gifts and leaving you no room (literally, there are very small spaces to write in) to make your Will specific to YOU and your family.
  2. Like Dr. Google, Google Lawyer can sometimes get it wrong. The internet is amazing, and you can get all kinds of wonderful advice about Wills and your estate planning from tons of awesome websites online (like this one, for example). But a word of caution, while reading this article is a great start, you should make an appointment to chat to a lawyer about you, your life, your assets and your loved ones before you go ahead and make a Will. There could be things you just don’t think about that we will. That is what we are here for!

Make time to make your Will today. Don’t put it off any longer.

Call JHK Legal on 07 3859 4500 and have a chat about what we can do for you to get your affairs in order.

Written by Lawyer, Chloe Blaney