Do I Need a Will? [Infographic]

Last updated: 16 September 2021

Every Australian adult should have a Will. In this pretty Infographic we explain the 5 reasons why you should have a Will and identify the 6 life events when you should consider writing or updating your Will – of course, using our Australian Will Kit.

do I need a will
Do I Need a Will? [Infographic]

Use this Infographic on your website

You are welcome to share this Infographic as long as you only use it for personal (not commercial i.e. money making) purposes and you give attribution to Legal123. Download a PDF version of this Infographic here or copy and paste the code below into the html of your website:

Do I Need a Will?

In recent decades, Australian household wealth has grown significantly, making us one of the richest nations per capita globally. For many people, a significant amount of intergenerational wealth will be passed down to family members on the death of a loved one. This allows the current generation to provide the next generation with a significant financial legacy.

Sadly, too often we see cases where someone dies without having their affairs in order, which only exacerbates the grief and stress felt by their family. We should not do that to our loved ones.

A formal document setting out your intentions for your estate is the only way to be certain that your assets will be distributed the way you want after you die. The importance of creating a Will cannot be overstated.

If you’re wondering “do I really need a Will?” – the chances are you already need one and now is the best time to start your estate planning. As the saying goes: “the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, the second best time is right now”.

Remember, anyone over the age of 18 years can make a Will. You don’t need to be old or have a large estate. And you certainly don’t have to be sick or about to depart.

Reasons to Get a Will

To ensure that your assets go to the family members and friends that you want

It is important to protect your family and to ensure the correct distribution of intergenerational wealth. This helps avoid potential arguments between your family members over your personal assets. Where you have children under 18 years, you can also use your Will to appoint a guardian to care for them and to hold their inheritance in trust until they come of age.

To decide how your assets are split and what gifts you want to give

Having a Will allows you to choose exactly who you want to receive your estate and how much they are to receive. You have complete, what is called, ‘testamentary freedom’ when it comes to choosing your beneficiaries. There may be charities you want to benefit or persons you wish to expressly exclude.

To nominate someone you trust to carry out your final wishes

One of the first things to do when making a Will is to appoint an executor. This is the person who administers your estate after you pass away. Having a Will allows you to appoint someone you trust, rather than have a court appointed next-of-kin or trustee company.

To reduce costs and stress to your family after your death

An unorganised estate can cause lengthy delays and incur significant legal costs, particularly where estate disputes arise. This means that your beneficiaries receive less, while more of your money goes to legal fees which may otherwise be avoided.

Without a Will your assets are split according to a legal formula

If you die without a Will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’. In that case, your estate will be distributed to your next-of-kin according to strict laws. You will have no say in who receives your estate. In an intestate estate, dealing with your assets will likely become more complex, time consuming and costly.

Life Events and Updating Your Will

It’s best to write your Will as early as possible. You never know when the worst might happen. There are also some major life events where you should consider making or updating your Will. These include:-

  • Get married or remarried (marriage revokes a Will)
  • Acquiring a house or an asset of considerable value
  • Starting a family (who will care for your children if you and your partner pass away?)
  • Setting up or acquiring a business
  • Separating or divorcing (these may revoke your Will)
  • Receiving an inheritance or large gift

The act of marriage automatically revokes a Will. Once you marry, divorce, or remarry, you should always make a new Will to ensure that your affairs are in order.

Wills are a significant and essential part of your financial planning and should not be something that is left until the last minute or left unfinished.

Writing Your Will

A Will does not need to be complex. It can be one of the easiest and least daunting of all personal legal documents to write. The formal requirements of a Will are reasonably simple. It must be in writing and signed by you in the presence of two independent witnesses present at the same time.

You can download Will templates from the internet and write your Will easily from home. There is no need to go to a lawyer, unless you have a more complex situation.

Some of the most common Wills are simple ‘mirror Wills’. These occur where a spousal couple leave their entire estate to the other, then to their children in equal shares when the surviving spouse passes. A husband and wife will often have mirror Wills because they have the same wishes for dividing their assets when they die.

Australian Will Kit from Legal123

Many people do not think seriously about their own estate planning until they reach one of the later stages of their life’s journey. Perhaps we don’t like to think about our own mortality. Realistically it can come at any time and often without warning.

Most people will know of someone who was taken before their time. When reflecting on their own lack of estate planning, many have thought to themselves ‘thank goodness it wasn’t me’.

If you take the time to sit down and think seriously about your journey you will appreciate that estate planning is an area that you should address early in life and then review it regularly as life evolves.

Use our easy online form with video instructions to generate your Australian Will. Don’t get caught without a Will!

About Vanessa Emilio

Vanessa Emilio (BA Hons, LLB, ACIS, AGIA) is the Founder and CEO of Legal123.com.au and Practice Director of Legal123 Pty Ltd. Vanessa is a qualified Australian lawyer with more than 20 years experience in corporate, banking and trust law. Follow this link to read the full bio of Vanessa Emilio.