Do I Need a Will? [Infographic]

Last updated: 21 June 2024

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]

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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 a significant financial legacy to the next generation.

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.

Need Help with Writing Your Will?

Is your personal situation “complex”? If you own property overseas, are part owner of a business, are a Beneficiary of a family trust, have a “blended” family with children from former relationships, have disabled children, or anticipate potential claims on your estate – we recommend having your Will custom-drafted by one of our Wills & Estates lawyers.

A formal document stating your intentions for your estate is the only way to ensure 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

Protecting your family and ensuring the correct distribution of intergenerational wealth is important. 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 will 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 exclude expressly.

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 your affairs are in order.

Wills are a significant and essential part of your financial planning and should not be left unfinished until the last minute. And if you run or own a business you should check out: What Happens to My Business When I Die?

Writing Your Will

A Will does not need to be complicated. 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.

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

Need Help with Writing Your Will?

Is your personal situation “complex”? If you own property overseas, are part owner of a business, are a Beneficiary of a family trust, have a “blended” family with children from former relationships, have disabled children, or anticipate potential claims on your estate – we recommend having your Will custom-drafted by one of our Wills & Estates lawyers.

You can download Will templates online and write your Will easily from home. Going to a lawyer is unnecessary unless you have a more “complex” situation.

Your situation is considered “complex” if you:

  • Own property overseas
  • Are part owner of a business
  • Are a beneficiary of a family trust
  • Have a “blended” family with children from former relationships
  • Have disabled children, or
  • Anticipate potential claims on your estate

If your situation is “complex”, we recommend having your Will custom-drafted by a lawyer.

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, ‘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. Don’t get caught without a Will!

vanessa emilio of legal123

About the Author: Vanessa Emilio

Vanessa Emilio (BA Hons, LLB, ACIS, AGIA) is the Founder and CEO of and Practice Director of Legal123 Pty Ltd. Vanessa is a qualified Australian lawyer with 20+ years experience in corporate, banking and trust law. Click for full bio of or follow on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: We hope you found this article helpful, but please be aware that any information, comments or recommendations are general in nature, do not constitute legal advice and may not be suitable for your specific circumstances. Whilst we try our best to ensure that the information is accurate, sometimes there may be errors or new information that has yet to be included. Any decisions you take based on information on this website are made at your own risk and we cannot be held liable for any losses you suffer. Contact us directly before relying on any of this information.

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