I know it’s quite a morbid topic, and believe me, in my culture this is basically like cursing yourselves to die, but I’ve been thinking about this more since having my own child. Although it is a scary thought but I believe it is much better to be prepared about these things.
So although it’s a bit serious, I’m glad to have this post out there for those who are thinking the same thing.
Appoint the executor of your will
The executor can be a professional or someone else you trust (spouse, family friend) but they must be an Australian resident and at least 18 years old. The executor is responsible for collecting assets, paying existing debts, distributing estate to nominated beneficiaries. The executor can also be a beneficiary at the same time.
Appointing someone you trust is especially important as the executor will act as a trustee until your children are old enough to access their share of the estate, and it’s also a good idea to appoint an additional, alternate executor — just in case.
Outline the beneficiaries of your estate
You can appoint anyone you like as a beneficiary, and you can also appoint more than one. Common beneficiaries include your spouse, children, relatives, friends and charitable organisations (pets too, if you don’t have kids). You will need to decide whether to leave the entire estate to the spouse responsible for your children or to name the children as individual beneficiaries.
Appoint a guardian
Appoint someone you trust to be the official caretaker of your children if they are under 18 years old. You can choose any person you wish but it almost goes without saying that they should be trustworthy, financially stable, and emotionally and physically capable. It is also important to discuss guardianship with the person or people you want to appoint as the carer of your children – the appointment of a guardian in your will is not legally binding. If your appointed guardian does not accept the guardianship or is unable to perform the required duties, the Family Court does have the power to intervene. However the best interests of the child will always be the main priority.
Outline funeral and burial wishes
Decide if you wish to have a burial or cremation, and allocate sufficient money to cover the costs of your funeral. Are you an organ donor? Best to cover that too.
Make sure your will is valid
In order to be valid, the will must be in writing, and it must be signed by yourself and two witnesses – witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will and must be at least 18 years old
Update your will
Update the beneficiaries of your estate as family circumstances change. For example, if you have more children or get married (a new marriage invalidates any pre-existing will). Also be sure to update any new major assets, and replace beneficiaries and executors should they die.
Death is a sensitive issue for all of us, but a clearly organised will can help ease the emotional and financial stress of your loved ones. Whether you’re looking for family lawyers Central Coast, or family lawyers in the city, there are number of qualified professionals who can help guide you through the will process.
This is in collaboration with Watts McCray.