Is Your Will Good Enough? (Estate Planning)

The "Simple Wills" available to the public can often create more problems than they solve

When not professionally drafted, certain clauses within a Will can actually undo protections afforded by the law.

These shorter Wills also fail to take into account important issues such as tax minimization, superannuation and issues relevant to today’s society.

For some people, getting a Will might be as easy as picking up a Will kit from the local newsagent with the morning paper, filling it out, and the job’s done. But there are very few people who could get away with this approach, and in fact, some “simple” Wills can create serious problems for beneficiaries. Most people would be doing their estate, and their beneficiaries, a great disservice by not paying proper attention to their Will, and all the complexities and opportunities it contains.

What’s wrong with the Will Kit?

The Will kit are created by publishers and not estate planning lawyers. In one sense they are good because one in three people die without any kind of a Will. However, these documents can often cause more harm than good as they are not properly constructed or created.

Often these simple Wills are highly inflexible due to the fact that the person drafting the Will does not have the knowledge to understand that flexibility is required in a Will to deal with the many issues which may potentially occur. For example:

A couple, Mick and Rhonda, each wrote a Will with the Will Kit. They left their home to their three children equally and the money in their bank account to their 6 grandchildren.

Mick and Rhonda retired and sold their house to travel overseas. Whilst overseas they were killed in a car crash. Because they sold their house and kept the proceeds in their bank account, on death the 6 grandchildren received everything and their children received nothing.

So what should be included in a good Will?

When you have insured your contents, under Accidental Damage Home Insurance, you receive automatic cover for valuable items. The terms of each insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement vary, however a typical policy would provide the following:

  • Clauses that deal with any existing debts (whether you wish these debts paid off or kept as part of an investment portfolio);
  • Mechanisms to address any tax and Centrelink issues. Be aware that leaving assets to someone on a Centrelink pension may cause them to lose that pension;
  • Strategies to protect your estate from claims from unwanted parties and protection for your beneficiaries from legal claims and family law claims.

Also be aware that many lawyers are not trained in estate planning issues, and many are not able to deal in matters regarding superannuation. It is important that you seek professional advice in relation to this area because there could be potentially a lot at stake.

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