None of us like to face the inevitable and often this is why we don't prioritise making a comprehensive will and keeping it up to date. However, anyone who has undergone the legal process of writing a will can tell you that it is actually a very reassuring thing to do and it means you have done everything you can to take care of your loved ones after you are gone. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone, your chosen lawyers will give you advice and help you every step of the way.
Under Queensland law, if a person dies intestate ( without a valid will), their estate is distributed according to set rules and your loved ones will have no say in the process. This can result in people you would ordinarily want to leave something to missing out completely, and people you might wish to leave out of your will would receive an inheritance if they are next in line according to the law.
By having a valid will, you are making sure that your estate and belongings are dealt with and divided as you would like. This becomes particularly important when you have children and more substantial assets such as real estate property.
Before you meet with your lawyer, it is a good idea to gather together some information so that you can maximise your face to face time and benefit from the best legal advice.
The personal details required will include:
- Name - all names that you are known by
- Home address
- Name of partner (spouse or de facto) and marital status
- Names of children
As well as these basics, take some time to consider other people that you might like to name as beneficiaries and who you would deem suitable as the legal executor of your will (this can be more than one person).
If you have minor children, you will need to think about whom you would nominate to care for them in the unlikely event that something should happen to both yourself and their other parent.
If you have a will already, but it needs to be updated, don't forget to bring a copy of this with you to your meeting.
At the appointment with your lawyers, you will discuss how you would like your estate to be dealt with and divided after your death. Your lawyers will assist and give you advice on the proposed distribution. There may also be other matters to consider, such as obligations from a previous marriage.
To determine your estate and possible liabilities, your lawyer will require further information from you. It is useful to have these on hand for your meeting:
- Real estate property
- Household contents and the estimated value
- Cars and other vehicles
- Particular Jewellery pieces and an estimated value
- Insurance policies and Superannuation
- Any shares owned
- All bank accounts
- Details of any Trusts held, with copies of deeds
- Business interests
- Any other assets
Before the will is finalised, you will be provided with a full draft to ensure that it is accurate and correctly reflects your wishes. It is essential to ask about anything at all that you are unhappy or unclear about at this stage.
Cairns Wills and Estate Lawyers are a practice group of Preston Law and have an expert team of lawyers, dealing with all areas of Wills and Estate planning.
Contact our Cairns office to see how we can help you.