Wills, Codicils & Estate Planning
Why make a will?
The law is quite clear. If you do not have a Will, when you die, your assets will be divided in accordance with a strict legislative scheme as laid out in s50-54 of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (VIC) and not according to your wishes.
At Cyngler Kaye Levy Lawyers, we spend the time to discuss your wishes with you and draw up your Will accordingly.
Things to consider when making a Will:
- Who to appoint as your Executor
- Who to leave your assets to so as to provide for your children and give specific items to other relatives or friends
- Whether to appoint a Guardian if your children are under your specified aged threshold (18,21 or 15 years old)
- Whether to appoint a Trustee to administer the estate until all dependants become of age
- Whether to give to Charity
- How the funeral & burial is to be conducted.
- Your structure may warrant creating a Testamentary Trust which in certain circumstances provides relief to the estate and protects the estate from unwanted claims.
- Provide life interests in property for certain members of the family, whilst still being able to eventually bequeath the asset to whom you want. See also our section on Family law and marriage breakup for information on the consequences of your assets in a new relationship.
- You may make unusual bequests such as leaving funds to look after a beloved pet in a particular way, or distributing assets only after certain restrictive actions have been met by the beneficiary. These clauses require careful drafting to ensure that they are not challenged.
As experienced Estate Lawyers, we can draw up a Will to reflect your wishes. It is extremely important to ensure the Will is drawn up in such a way that it cannot be challenged.
Common challenges to Wills are:-
- Poor drafting of the terms of the Will leaving the meaning unclear
- Physical assembly of the Will document not being in accordance with the strict formalities of the Registrar of Probates (the administrative arm of the Supreme Court of Victoria)
- Incorrect witnessing of the document
- Incorrect dating of the document
The use of a “Will Kit” often leads to any or all of the above issues invalidating the Will or creating the environment for a challenge.
Reviewing your Will
If you last reviewed your Will more than five years ago, you may find that your circumstances have changed.
Possible changes in circumstances since you last made your WIll:-
- Birth of Children
- Death of a Spouse/Executor/Guardian/ Beneficiary/Business Partner
- Serious Illness
- Remarriage/De facto Living arrangement
- Family Dispute
You may now want to include in your Will clauses to provide guardianship or Trusteeship of assets for the children, life interests for certain members of the family in properties etc.
To help your Executor administer your estate, we suggest you prepare a list of all your assets and their location and advise your Executor where the list may be found.
Assets may include:-
- Property – Title Particulars
- Bank Accounts – Bank, Branch and Account Numbers
- Insurance Policies – Insurance Company and Policy Number including Superannuation Policies & Life Insurance Policies
- Shares, Debentures, Stock
- Other Valuables
If you wish to change your Will, we can advise you if you require a Codicil or a new Will
Our experienced Estate Planning Lawyers can assist you in setting up a Testamentary Trust.
Click here for a checklist of information and explanation of Testamentary Trusts
You may receive a tax relief if the nominated beneficiary under a superannuation fund is interdependent with the deceased.
Whatever your need, we can advise you of the best set of legal documents (Will, Powers of Attorney, Trusts/company structures) to protect you and your family in the future.
Please do not hesitate to call our office for advice on 03 9500 1722, email us or request a cost estimate.