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You WILL die one day, you might as well be prepared

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we will all die one day, might as well plan for it

There’s something about becoming a parent that suddenly requires you to take charge of things which may have otherwise been left undone. There is a need to take responsibility for your life and finances with little ones under your care. It’s a good opportunity to check you have things like life insurance organised, and perhaps its time you wrote your Will, consolidated your debt, rolled over your super, as well as consider giving up pub crawls and eating bowls of cereal for dinner.

It’s easy to feel immortal when you are young and carefree, but once you have a family, there is a real need to think about your future and your children’s future, and that includes accepting the fact that you will eventually die. According to ASIC’s MoneySmart website, it is estimated that about 50% of all Australians die without a Will. And while its macabre and morbid and not very nice to think about, it is better to leave a Will for those who are left behind which include clear instructions about your assets, than nothing at all and leaving your loved ones not only mourning you, but potentially having to battle out their entitlements and rights in court.

A Will is not just about money either. Yes a Will is a legal document which covers your assets and how they will be distributed, but it also lets you determine who will look after your children if they are still young, as well as instructions about how you want your funeral to unfold. If you don’t write a Will, no one will know your wishes and things can get messy for those left behind.

How Do You Write A Will?

There are a few ways to arrange your Will. You can buy a kit from a post office or newsagency costing you between $30 - $60. There are also many online Will templates you can use – however be mindful Wills aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ document – everyone will have their own individual circumstances, and you will need to customise any templates to fit your wishes and situation. Also be sure to use one complying with Australian Law. Any DIY Will should really be looked over by a solicitor to check it’s legally watertight.  If you don’t go down the DIY path you will need to find a private or public trustee or a solicitor to assist you, and while this is more expensive, it can also be more thorough and legally binding.

It’s important to keep your will up to date, with any life or financial changes. So big things like getting married, buying property, having children, changes in assets, divorce, retirement etc, these are all life events which will impact your Will. Even smaller things like buying a new car or opening a new bank account are worth updating in your Will.  It’s a good idea to discuss your plans with your family, as well as letting your most trusted family members know where you will keep your Will. And when writing your Will be as specific as possible about what you want, including people’s full names and details about your various assets.

What Does Power of Attorney Mean?

Writing your Will is one thing, considering who you should appoint power of attorney to is something else to think about. By appointing an attorney you give them the legal authority to look after your financial affairs on your behalf.  Each state and territory has a government appointed body able to act as your attorney as well as assist you in writing and updating your Will.

What is an Executor?

The executor of a Will is responsible for carrying out the wishes of someone after they die. The executor manages the estate according to the terms of the Will and protects the assets of the estate. Other duties may include locating the Will, arrangement of the funeral, taking care of tax, debts and collecting assets just to name a few. It can be an overwhelming role for some, and it is possible for those nominated to pass on their responsibility to a professional executor if preferred.

There are lots of resources available online to find out more about what you should include in your Will and how to make sure it is legally binding. Here are a few helpful sites worth visiting:
MoneySmart
NSW Trustee and Guardian (there will be an equivalent of this service in each state and territory)

No one wants to think too much about dying, but by thinking ahead about how you want your estage manged will help to reduce the confusion and stress on your loved ones when the time does eventually arrive.  

Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.