Why Do I Need a Will?
If you die without making a Will (intestate), you donâ€™t have any say about how your estate is distributed. Here are a few examples of what could happen:
Wife and 2 young kids
Tom falls of his ladder whilst cleaning out the gutter. He has life insurance that is paid to his wife. He bought the house before he met his wife, so it was in his name only. His wife can pay off the mortgage with the life insurance. The house is worth $500,000. His wife is entitled to the first $100,000 of the estate, plus a further 1/3. His children get the remaining 2/3. His wife cannot buy out their children their interest in the house. So his wife ends up holding part of the house on trust for the children, and they will then own it jointly with her when they turn 18 years old. It would have been Timâ€™s preference that everything go to his wife.
John is separated from his wife. They didnâ€™t have any children, but John has a son from a former relationship. John dies in an accident without a Will. His wife, despite their separation, will be entitled to all his household contents, his car, the first $100,000 of his estate, plus a further 1/3 of his estate. His son will only get the remaining 2/3 (if there is even anything left). It would have been Johnâ€™s preference for everything to go to his son.
Separated with new defacto partner
Jill is separated and has two adult children. She has a new partner, and they have been living together for 2 years. Jill dies in an accident without a Will. Her defacto partner will have to split the household contents, the car, the first $100,000 of the estate and a further 1/3 of the estate with Jillâ€™s ex-husband. Jillâ€™s ex-husband will be entitled to 60% of that 1/3. Jillâ€™s children will then get the remaining 2/3 of the entire estate. Jill wouldnâ€™t have wanted anything to go to her ex-husband, and would have wanted her current partner to have the house. But because the estate is getting split up her partner will not be able to afford to buy the house from the estate.
Jack has a Will, but it leaves everything to his only daughter. His wife has already passed away. Jackâ€™s daughter dies, and then Jack dies. Jackâ€™s Will is not effective because there is no one surviving him, so his estate is distributed under the laws of intestacy. His nephews and nieces get the estate split between them, when he has not seen many of them for years. It would have been Jackâ€™s preference to leave his estate to his one niece who lived locally to him and who helped him since his wifeâ€™s death.
Kylie completes a free Will kit that she got when she took out some life insurance. She appoints her brother as executor and leaves everything equally to her siblings. Kylie dies in an accident, and her brother is advised that Kylie didnâ€™t complete the Will kit correctly and the Will is invalid. Kylieâ€™s previous Will appointed her sister and left everything to her sister. Kylieâ€™s sister wants to prove the old Will, but Kylieâ€™s brother wants the Court to accept the invalid Will as a true record of Kylieâ€™s wishes. There is a legal battle that costs the estate over $30,000. If Kylie had just had her Will prepared professionally, her estate would not have been wasted.
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