Creating a Will: Top Five Reasons to Work with a Lawyer

Most people have some semblance of assets and property that they want to be taken care of when they pass on. Others have dependents (minors) to worry about as well. A will is the best way to ensure that your possessions and dependents are taken care of and appropriated according to your wishes. If you work with a lawyer to create your will before your death, you get to decide who executes your will, and how your assets will be distributed. Otherwise, your assets will be divided amongst your relatives based on a formulaic percentage.

According to a study published in March 2015*, 59% of Australians have a will. Most commonly, people are spurred to create a will because of a life change, change in assets, or as a result of growing older. Australians are continuing to live longer and longer and as a result, it is easier to put off the creation of a will for someone who seems perfectly healthy. Wills are the greatest component of later life planning, and more and more persons under age 50 are seeing the value in engaging a Wills and Estates lawyer.

It is not only important to have a will, but is important to have it prepared correctly by a Wills and Estates lawyer. A lawyer will make sure your will abides by all legal constraints, and can also help you determine what assets, you can actually include to be dispersed by your will. A lawyer can also give you advice to reduce the risk of challenges to your will. If you are worried that it is too expensive to engage a lawyer in the creation of your will, consider the alternative: a will that is null and invalid because of improper preparation. Preparing your will with a professional can save your loved ones a lot of stress and grief

So, here are the top five reasons to have a will created by a lawyer:

1. You get to decide who becomes the executor of your estate.

Rather than your estate being divvied up among family members based on a percentage determined by the government, you get to choose someone that you trust to execute your will. You have the opportunity to pick an executor that you think will work well with your family through your death.

2. You decide to whom and how your assets/property are distributed.

There is a very sterile and impersonal formula for how your assets will be distributed if you do not have a will. Your own wishes are not considered, and this in turn affects your loved ones. When you work with an experienced lawyer, they can help you set specific guidelines with details for where all of your assets will end up.

3. You decide who will take care of your children if you are the parent of a minor(s).

If you have not determined a clear desire for your children in a legal will, then anyone with sufficient interest can apply for guardianship of your children. In this case, Family Court will decide who will become your child’s new guardian.

4. A grant of Probate can be obtained in a timely manner.

When a person dies, a grant of Probate sometimes needs to be obtained before any of the assets can be divvied out to the beneficiaries. If a will is defective or challenged, there are instances when a grant of Probate cannot be obtained in a timely manner, or at all. Needing to obtain a grant of Probate will depend on the type of assets that you have and under whose name they are held. If you have a will prepared by a professional, it is taken as evidence of your intentions. This means that the process of getting probate granted and distributing the estate tends to be a much smoother process, with less risk of dispute against the estate.

5. You can gift monies to charities, which is a way to give back to the community.

By including one or more charities in your will, you are able to leave a mark on your community that stretches beyond your individual family members. This can also help to avoid a sense of entitlement among family members that your assets are strictly “family money.”

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* Tilse, C,. J., White, B., Rosenman, L. & Feeney, R. (2015) Having the Last Word? Will making and contestation in Australia. The University of Queensland