There are a number of common myths about wills that people have and these myths seem to grow over time and almost become fact. Due to the availability of information online, these myths seem to spread and unfortunately for many, this could mean that they are making wrong decisions based on these misconceptions. As a result, many people don’t even bother to look for information about how to write a valid will or how to plan for their estate or seek expert advice from a lawyer.
At Harbourside Legal Services we can explain to you in plain language the best approach to take with your will and your estate planning. We make it easy and we can even dispel some of the myths that you may have heard or read online. Here are some of the more common myths:
If I die, everything automatically goes to my partner anyway
This is not totally true. If you die without a will, you are what’s known as ‘intestate’ and as a result the law has its own formula for how assets are distributed from your estate. Usually, this means it goes to your spouse and children if you have them but it could also mean that it goes to your ex-wife or husband or even your parents.
I don’t need a will, I don’t own enough
It’s important not to underestimate the value of your estate and it could be worth more than you think. Times have changed and everyone’s circumstances are different. You may have benefits in superannuation and life insurance policies and may even be a future beneficiary of an estate. Even if you don’t have a lot of money or many assets, you should still make a will.
The government gets it all if there is no will
This is a very common myth. The fact is that if there are no eligible relatives then the estate proceeds would go to the government. If you don’t leave a valid will, an executor will work through all the levels of your living relatives, from the closest to the most distant, to distribute the estate.
I won’t be around, so I don’t need to think about it
This is a poor choice to make. The fact is that leaving a will ensures that the estate can be distributed according to your wishes. By not making a will you are not only saving your next of kin some severe uncertainty and stress, but also the expensive legal costs of finalising your estate after you’re gone. Our expert lawyers make the process easy so it’s important to just get it done.
I move around so much that the executor would never find my will
Once you have made your will with us, we will keep it in secure storage for when it’s needed. That way you can move without worrying about your will. If you want to make changes you can contact our office and when it comes to probate we can handle that for you as well.
Making a will is too expensive
The expense of a will is a consideration but it should be remembered that it is an excellent investment in giving you peace of mind in knowing your estate will be distributed according to your wishes and not of the rules set down by the law.
At Harbourside Legal Services we are offer competitive pricing and will discuss with you before your appointment your costs so that there are no surprises.
I can write my own will or just make some notes about who should get what
A few notes or a homemade will that outlines your wishes will not be recognised legally unless it has been signed and witnessed correctly. If you don’t make your will properly or get it witnessed, your executor might have to go to court to have the will declared valid so your beneficiaries can receive your estate.
I already have a will, and I don’t need to update it
There are many life events that can affect your will. You should review your will at minimum every 5 years, or update it any time these events happen to you:
- Starting a de facto relationship
- Get married
- Get divorced
- Start or end a registered relationship including a civil union
- Have a baby
- Have a loved one pass away such as a spouse, partner or beneficiary
- If you do not update your will then parts of it can become invalid, and this can make the whole will invalid.
Beneficiaries can’t challenge a will
Many people think if you are listed as a beneficiary – even of something very small – you cannot challenge a will. People writing wills sometimes give someone a small bequest to prevent them from making a challenge for further provision.
But the fact remains, that you can’t stop someone from making a challenge if they are entitled to do so. Usually, a challenge can be made by a spouse, children, parents, and a de facto partner. At Harbourside Legal Services we can advise you on how to defend a claim.
The estate pays for challenges
If a beneficiary wants to challenge an estate, they might think the estate will pay for it, but in fact they have to pay for it themselves. Courts can even order that beneficiaries who make an unsuccessful challenge pay for the legal costs of the executor of the estate on top of their own costs.