It's possible to write your own Will, but there are pitfalls
for the unwary which can result in your estate not going where you
intended it to go. Joshua Crowther, Wills and Estates specialist at
Stacks/The Law Firm, lists the 10 most common mistakes:
Picking the wrong executor – the most important role in
administering your estate. If it's a complicated Will and there
is a blended family it may be wise to pick more than one executor
or a professional (such as a lawyer or accountant) to ensure the
Will is carried out according to your wishes.
Not changing your Will if you remarry as a marriage revokes a
Not providing your superannuation fund with a 'binding
nomination' (where that's possible). Without one, the
trustees of the fund decide who gets your super, not you.
Failing to consider tax consequences for beneficiaries. Passing
superannuation to a dependent such as a spouse, minor or disabled
child is tax free, but if your super goes to an adult child it
could be taxed at the top rate.
If tax consequences are an issue, have you considered the use
of a testamentary trust? This is a complex area so it's best to
consult someone who specialises in this area of law.
If there's a risk of family break up, what arrangements
have you made to make sure the inheritance left for your kids
doesn't end up in the hands of your in-laws? Again, a
testamentary trust could help to protect inheritance.
If one of your beneficiaries dies, do you want their share to
go to their children or to other beneficiaries?
If passing to a minor child, at what age do you want them to
inherit? The normal vesting age is 18 but it might be wise to wait
until they're a little older and wiser.
If one of your beneficiaries dies before you (or within 30 days
of your death), such as in a vehicle accident, how do you want that
beneficiary's share to be distributed to others? Your
son-in-law or daughter-in-law could marry again and change their
Will so that their new partner inherits the estate. This could cut
your grandchildren out of any future inheritance.
If you want to make sure your pets are looked after, you
normally need to insert a special trust clause. You can't leave
money to a pet.
"In short, if you have a large estate or a complex
'Brady Bunch' type family it's really important to get
the Will set up properly so the inheritance goes where you
wish," said Joshua Crowther.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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There are several requirements that must be completed by an executor before the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
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