A will is a legal document that states how you want your assets to be distributed when you die. It gives you the opportunity to provide for your family and friends. If you do not leave a current will, your estate will be distributed according to a set formula. In some circumstances, dying without a will can have unintended consequences for your family and loved ones. When there is no will or no valid will, you are said to die ‘intestate’. The Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) sets out a formula (rules of intestacy) for how your estate will be distributed and to whom.
Having a lawyer prepare your will can help you have your assets distributed according to your wishes.
Just like the creation of your will the revision is also majorly important:
A will should reflect your current domestic and financial situation. As circumstances in life change, so should your will. Revise your will at least every five years or when a significant event such as marriage, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member takes place.
Even if you haven’t changed your will, certain events and changes in circumstances, such as marriage and divorce, will still affect it. For example
- A will made before a marriage is not valid
- Separation (but not divorce) from a spouse does not affect the will
- Any gifts to your spouse or their appointment as executor are automatically revoked on divorce.
A will should be reviewed on the birth or death of significant family members or friends. It is also prudent to appoint a guardian for your children after their birth and to review your will if your appointed executor dies or becomes incapacitated to carry out their duties under your existing will.
One of the first decisions of creating a will is appointing an executor. The role of the executor is to manage your estate after your death. Your estate includes money, houses, land, cars, shares, clothes, jewellery and any other goods owned by you.
The executor performs important duties in relation to the deceased and the estate.
These can include:
- Attending funeral arrangements
- Notifying any financial institutions and other organisations of the deceased’s death.
- Taking control of all assets
- Identifying the beneficiaries and their entitlements
- Obtaining the grant of probate or letters of administration
- Resolving all estate liabilities and disputes.
- Probate and letters of administration
- When a person dies leaving a will, a grant of probate must be obtained from the Registrar of Probates in the Supreme Court. A grant of probate is a court order confirming the validity of the will.
- When a person dies without a will, or there is a will but an executor has not been appointed, an application for letters of administration must be made to the Registrar of Probates in the Supreme Court.
The procedure for both is similar and your lawyer can advise you of the requirements.
A grant of probate or letters of administration is required to collect the assets of the estate for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Grants of probate and letters of administration will be required for:
- Access to the deceased’s bank accounts.
- Obtaining the title of the deceased’s property.
- The collection, administration and protection of the deceased’s property.
If you have any questions, inquires or would just like to know more about preparing your will and you understand the importance of having a will and the importance of keeping your will up to date, please do not hesitate to call our office on 52216788.