When was the last time you thought about your will? Many of us think about wills when there is a birth, death or marriage in the family, but few of us think it at one of the most important times – when we start to accumulate significant assets. Whether it’s buying property, starting a business, or even growing your income, when your assets increase, you should be reviewing your will to ensure your wealth is transferred how you would want it, and, most importantly, your loved ones are protected.
Yet, more than half of Australian adults don’t even have a will. If that includes you, there are many reasons you should be thinking about getting one now. Here are just four of them.
- You don’t want a legal formula deciding on your legacy
Many people incorrectly assume that their assets will automatically be transferred in a way they would like, even if they don’t have a will. However, everyone’s relationships and wishes are different and dividing assets by a legal formula is rarely the way to get the outcome you would have intended.
If you die without a will, in legal terms, you will be deemed to have died “intestate”, which means intestacy law will define how your assets are divided.
Typically, if you are married or in a de facto relationship with no children, your assets will automatically go to your spouse. If you have children, your estate will be divided according to a legal formula based on the value of your assets and possessions.
If you are not married, then your assets are divided amongst remaining relatives, such as parents, siblings, nephews or nieces, based again on a formula. However, if you are survived only by more removed relatives, such as second cousins, they will not receive anything, and your estate may go to the government.
Family relationships are complex and who you want your assets to go to is a deeply personal thing. You might be very close with extended family and you want to make sure they receive an inheritance or, conversely, you may not want assets going to closer relatives for personal reasons.
- You don’t want to cause your loved ones additional stress
Even if your family relationships are straightforward or you have a spouse who you would like to receive the entirety of your estate, a will is still the best way to avoid leaving room for speculation and reduce the stress on loved ones at a very difficult time.
When there is no will in place, you leave room for conjecture within the family which can put pressure on those who do inherit. This can, and often does, lead to conflict or even the breakdown of family relationships, because no one is clear on what you actually wanted and so everyone looks at it through their own lens.
- You want to help a cause close to your heart
Many Australians want part of their legacy to be about helping others through a charitable donation, and without a will, you have no way of guaranteeing this will happen. A will ensures you leave the exact legacy you want and can support the people, communities and causes that were close to your heart in life.
- It can be about more than money
Even though we often think in financial terms when talking about our wills, it’s also important to remember there can be a lot more at stake. If you have dependent children, for example, a will is your opportunity to nominate who will be the primary guardian if both parents pass away.
If you don’t have a will in this scenario, a court will decide who gets care of your children, and unfortunately, as discussed above, the legal system can’t fully take into account nuances of family relationships.
Always plan for the unexpected
While it can be difficult to think about what would happen if you or your partner passed away, particularly if you are young and healthy, unfortunately, life doesn’t always go to plan. If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we simply don’t know what is around the corner, and it’s important to plan for the unexpected.
When you make any significant financial or life decision, it’s wise to think through potential scenarios and how they could affect your finances and your loved ones. More people are starting to think about this in terms of personal insurances and protecting income, and this is important, but you also need to be thinking about it in terms of where and how your assets will be divided.
Get expert advice
Your Apt Adviser can help you with estate planning, from straightforward wills to working through family succession planning and even partnering with your other trusted advisers, like your lawyer or accountant, to make sure you plan for and – when the time comes – can execute effective transfer of your assets and your wealth.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you protect your loved ones, plan for wealth transfer and leave the legacy you want.
General Advice Warning
The information provided in this blog does not constitute ﬁnancial product advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, ﬁnancial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for speciﬁc professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL and ACL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) and Apt Wealth Home Loans (powered by Smartline ACL 385325) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.