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Wills - What you need know

 Wills and Estates

 

A Will is possibly the most important document you will prepare. Should you neglect to make one, an unrelated government administrator may be empowered to distribute your assets after you die. A Will is an instruction on how you wish your estate to be administered.

A Pre-Paid Legal Personal Membership Plan provides you with a proper solicitor prepared free Simple Will or allows for you to have a far more complicated Will prepared at a preferred member discount rate. A Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan provides for the;
 
Drawing up of a Will designed to meet your wishes;
Assistance with any necessary changes to your Will that you may need to make during your lifetime; and
Assistance with any additional estate planning and administration services you may need.
 
 We recommend you prepare a Will as part of you overall financial plan. Like your financial plan, your Will should also be reviewed regularly.
 

Making a Will


Coping with the death of a family member or loved one is a stressful and emotional experience for all of us, however you can protect those you love from any additional stress and worry by simply planning ahead and making a proper Will. Everyone should have a properly prepared Will. It helps to safeguard the interests of your family and loved ones. Wills are important legal documents and as such are prepared by Lawyers with great thought and care. A Pre-Paid Legal membership enables you to talk to a Legal Service Provider about your Will, so that you can receive good, sound advice on organising your affairs.
Coping with loss isnt easy
 

What is a Will?


A Will is a legal document. It means that the people you have chosen to receive your belongings or "assets" when you die, will do so in accordance to your wishes. These "assets" include everything you own such as your home or property, land, car, bank accounts, insurance policies, shares, or personal goods like jewellery, pictures or furniture. The people who receive these assets are called "beneficiaries".

Your beneficiaries could be your family or friends, charities or organisations such as schools.

Do I have to make a Will?


No, but it is advisable to do so in order that your assets may be distributed according to your wishes.

Provided you are of sound mind and at least 18 years of age, you are able to make a valid Will. If you are in the armed forces or are a seaman it may, in certain circumstances, be possible for you to make a Will even though you are under the age of 18.

As a Pre-Paid Legal Member, you are provided with a free simple Will with free yearly updates - simply fill in your Will questionnaire provided to you in your membership kit as a member, or contact Pre-Paid Legal directly for assistance.

Making a Will

What does a "valid" Will mean?


A valid Will is one that can be enforced in a court of law.

It must be:

In writing: This can be hand written, typewritten or printed.

Signed: You have to put your signature at the end of the Will;

Witnessed: Two witnesses who must not be beneficiaries should be present when you sign the Will and they must also sign at the end of each page of the document. You must all be together when the Will is being signed and witnessed.

 

Can I make my own Will?


Yes: You can make your own Will or you can ask another person to make it for you. However, it is wise to have your Will prepared by a Lawyer. A Lawyer can make sure that your Will is valid so that the people you want to benefit receive the assets you have chosen for them.
 

What will happen to my property if I don't make a Will?


The law provides a formula which sets out who is entitled to the property of a deceased person who does not leave a Will. However, the formula may not distribute your assets in accordance with your wishes.

It is not true that the Government takes a deceased person's property if there is no Will. This only happens in cases where there are no close relatives.

How can I make sure that my wishes are carried out?


You should appoint a person called an "Executor" in your Will to handle your affairs after you die. If you wish, you can name more than one person to act as Executor. Anybody can be an Executor - your spouse, friend, beneficiary or Lawyer - but you should first ask them whether they are prepared to be one. It is a responsible position, as the Executor has to obtain probate of the Will and pay any duties, debts or expense before finally distributing the balance to those beneficiaries named in the Will.

As a member, you have access to our Executor Assist Service - a service designed specifically to assist those people whom you may nominate to act as your executor. If you require more information about this service, then contact Pre-Paid Legal directly for assistance.

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If I change my mind, can I alter my Will?


Yes: You are free to alter your Will at any time, but to do so you must make a new Will or Codicil. If your circumstances change in any way you can and should alter your Will. You should consult your Legal Service Provider who can advise you on making any such alterations.

A Will can be cancelled by you destroying it or getting another person to destroy it in your presence. A Will can also be cancelled by another Will which contains a statement that all previous Wills are no longer valid.

 

What is a Codicil?


A Codicil is a document used to make a minor change to a Will. It must be made in the same way as a Will to be valid.
 

If I get married will that affect my Will?


A Will, made before you get married will usually be automatically "revoked" when you get married. If you plan married you to get should check with your Lawyer who will advise you how you need to change your Will.

If I get divorced will that affect my Will?


A Will is not automatically "revoked" when a marriage is dissolved. If you get divorced you should talk to your Legal Service Provider about the need to make a new Will.

What affects my Will

Can anyone else upset my Will?


No, you are free to leave your property to whomever you like provided you make proper provision for a surviving spouse, children or other dependants. If you do not they can apply to the court for the proper provision to be made for them. This application has to be made within 6 months of probate being granted. Such an application is known as an Inheritance Act Application.
 

How can your Legal Service Provider help you?


A Lawyer can:

             Make sure your Will is valid, properly drawn, signed and correctly witnessed;

             Make sure your wishes are clearly expressed in the Will;

             Make sure you have made adequate provision for your spouse and children;

             Advise you on choosing an Executor and the Executor's right to be paid for his or her time and trouble;

             Advise you on the best way to arrange your affairs;

             Advise you regarding the tax implications arising out of the disposition of your assets.

Legal Help
If you don't have a current and valid Will, contact Pre-Paid Legal today!

This service is provided as part of your Pre-Paid Legal membership and is an important aspect to any member's financial welfare, protection and proper disposal of their assets upon death.

Revising or Updating your Will

 
Is Your Will up to Date? Many people tend to overlook the importance of updating their Will, but the consequences for immediate family could be traumatic. Despite the problems that can occur, over 72 per cent of the population do not have a valid Will when they die.

Dying interstate (without a Will) raises many issues, including:

Assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestate succession which may differ widely from the deceased's unwritten wishes. For instance, your estate may go to distant relatives rather than the people who have assisted you during your life;

More tax may need to be paid on the estate, reducing the value of assets to be passed on; and

Unguided by a Will, the next of kin will spend substantial time and incur additional costs to administer the estate. They should not have to cope with this when they are grieving and would most likely find it difficult to deal with the responsibilities involved.

Life Changes


An up-to-date Will should reflect any significant changes in your life such as changes in close relationships, your levels of debt, and in your adult children's relationships.

Your Will should also be linked with any transfers of assets that may or may not take place via a Will; for example, if you have received your parent's inheritance.

Superannuation benefits, which can include life insurance - usually a significant asset - often fall outside of a Will. Distribution to your beneficiaries is governed by different rules, and your Will needs to recognise that these assets may not be treated as you would expect when you die.

With superannuation benefits, for example, if you don't nominate a beneficiary, the trustee of your super fund exercises its discretion to pay benefits among your "dependants" upon your death. Dependants include your spouse, children and any other person who establishes financial dependence.

If you nominate a beneficiary/ies, the trustee retains its discretion but gives consideration to any "non-binding" beneficiary nomination made by you. This could include a new partner.

Take Tax into Account


You should also consider tax implications when planning your Will. Australia does not have a death duty; however, capital gains tax (CGT) and lump sum tax on superannuation can have a substantial effect on the value of your estate.

Superannuation benefits are tax-free when paid to a spouse, ex-spouse or child under 18 years, while transferring benefits to non-dependants will incur a tax bill.

Talk to a Legal Service Provider for more information.

Consider Tax implications

Suggestions to members after signing the Will

 
If you have signed the Will elsewhere than our office, please send a photocopy of the signed Will to us so we can check that it has been correctly signed.
DO NOT attach anything to the original Will not even by paper-clips.
The original Will should be kept in a safe place. We do not recommend you keep it at your home, except in a fireproof safe. You may wish to keep it in your bank deposit box or you may use the safe custody service provided to you as part of your membership.
Note on the copy of the Will or the envelope in which it is contained
      (a)   where the original of the Will is lodged. It is important that it be easily found when needed;
      (b)   the names, addresses and occupations of the witnesses; and
      (c)   the date you signed the original Will.
Keep the copy in your filing cabinet with your important papers.
Tell the Executor of your Estate where the original Will is kept, and when it was deposited there. If you need to do anything to give the Executor access (eg; sign an authority, provide a combination), make sure you do it.
You may wish to make a list of your assets to assist your Executor. If you do, keep the list with the copy Will, NOT with the original. A list of this kind does not form part of the Will itself.
Once we have advised you that your Will has been correctly signed - but NOT BEFORE - please destroy the original and any copies of any previous Will.
 
 

 Reconsidering your Will

 
If you marry, your Will will be revoked by the marriage unless the Will is expressed to be made in contemplation of that marriage. Consult a Legal Service Provider about your Will if you decide to marry.
Divorce does not automatically revoke your Will. However, it would ordinarily be a circumstance that would affect your wishes. If you are contemplating divorce, or have been divorced since making your Will, consult a Legal Service Provider.
Review the copy of your Will every two or three years or whenever a major event occurs in your family, your assets or the taxation laws.
If you wish to change your Will or revoke it or make a new Will without informing your husband or wife or de facto spouse you may do so, but you should consult a Legal Service Provider.
Do not add to or delete from the Will after execution. Consult your Legal Service Provider if you want to change or revoke your Will because even the simplest changes must be correctly done or they may have disasterous results.
 
 

Need Help with Your Will?


Pre-Paid Legal Services also provides access to experienced and professional Estate Planning and Administration Consultants at preferential member discount rates.

Estate Administration


When you make your Will, you appoint an Executor. The Executor is responsible for administering your estate and carrying out the wishes expressed in your Will. The role of Executor carries with it a significant level of responsibility and serious consideration should be given as to who you select to take on this role. The administration of deceased estates is, in many cases, complex and extremely time consuming and the Executor must display a high degree of care in the execution of his or her duties. The Executor is also required to be competent in a variety of areas such as redemption of investments, sale of property and taxation.

Our consultants are specialist in the field, are experienced and knowledgeable about the ins and outs of deceased estate administration and are able to deal with the administration process in an efficient and timely manner with minimal inconvenience to your loved ones.

Private Executor Assist Service


If, as a nominated Executor of a Will, you find that you are unable to carry out your duties and obligations, you can arrange for Pre-Paid Legal to assist you in the administration of the deceased estate through its Legal Service Provider Network. A Pre-Paid Legal service provider can also be appointed the Administrator of an estate where there is no Will, or where a Will is deemed invalid and the next of kin do not wish to be appointed.

A Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan is one of the most cost effective ways to look after your estate matters. You will receive friendly and personalised service from an experienced Estate Planning and Administration Lawyer. Services offered include:

problems
Estate Planning including Wills, Powers of Attorney, Testament Trusts, Family Trusts, Family Companies and Partnerships;
Business Succession Planning including Buy / Sell agreements;
Estate Administration and our Executor Assist Service for private executors and trustees;
Personal Trusts including administering accident compensation trusts, trusts for minors, personal assets management and a bill paying service; and
Corporate and Charitable Trusts trusteeship and administration. 
 
For further information or an obligation-free quote, contact Pre-Paid Legal directly and we will connect you to our Planning and Administration Service, simply advise you are a Pre-Paid Legal member and would like to discuss their service.
 
Pre-Paid Legal provides these services to members through its legal provider network. While steps have been taken to ensure our legal providers are experienced in these areas, Pre-Paid Legal does not accept any liability arising out of the provision of any service by its Legal Service Providers.

About Pre-Paid Legal

Understanding the struggles that individuals, families and business owners encompass with not having access to affordable legal services, is the inspiration behind Pre-Paid Legal Plans. Learn more

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