Importance of a Will
A Will is a legal document that allows you to make your wishes known when you are no longer here. By having a Will you are able to leave instructions for the distribution of your estate and you can name someone as the executor of your Will to carry out these instructions on your behalf.
The Public Trustee has extensive expertise in assisting people in making Wills, and can also act as executor of your estate.
From 1 July 2019 we offer these services to eligible customers only. If you are not eligible to access the Public Trustee’s services you will need to see a lawyer, private trustee company or other alternative.
An executor is named in your Will as the legal representative responsible for the entire administration of your estate up to and including the final distribution of assets to all beneficiaries. The duties of an executor include:
- locating your Will
- applying to the Supreme Court for a grant of probate (which will confirm that your Will is registered by the court, and that the executor has the right to administer your estate)
- advising beneficiaries of the contents of your Will
- collecting and transferring assets to beneficiaries
- keeping proper records of all actions taken in regard to your Will
- paying any outstanding debts
- distributing the assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of your Will and
- lodging final taxation returns
- It’s important to think carefully about who will benefit under your Will. Are there any people who you specifically want to leave money to and/or any particular items (e.g. valuable jewellery, real estate) that you want to leave to particular people? Do you need to provide for a particular person (e.g. a partner or child)?
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you currently have. Refer to our Will Appointment Checklist for details. It is also useful to update this list on a regular basis so that you can easily identify if you need to update your Will due to the acquisition of assets and/or liabilities.
- If you have young children, decide who will be their guardian and at what age should they receive their entitlement under the Will (e.g. will it be when they turn 18, or when they are older?). It is important that you also talk to any potential guardians prior to making the Will to ensure that they would be willing to look after the needs of your children.
- Do you have any specific funeral instructions? Have you organised a pre-paid funeral? Do you want to be cremated or buried? Is there a particular place that you would like your funeral ceremony to take place?
- Do you need to provide for a disabled child? What will they need should you die?
- Do you have a family trust and/or operate a business as a sole trader or in a partnership?
Changes can be made to your Will at any time if you are an eligible customer.
Everyone should consider making a new Will if your circumstances change. As a general guide it is a good idea to review the contents of your Will every five years.
However, if any of the following events occur then your Will could either be invalidated or it may no longer sufficiently reflect your wishes, and it will be very important to update your Will as soon as possible:
- The birth of children and/or grandchildren
- The death of a beneficiary
- Procuring new assets and/or money
- Disposing of assets and/or money
- Joint assets become solely yours or vice versa
If you are not eligible to access the Public Trustee’s services you will need to see a lawyer, private trustee company or other alternative.