Yes, you’d rather not think about it. But deep down you know that creating a plan for how you want your assets to be dealt with after your death makes obvious good sense. In fact, there are a whole lot of reasons why writing a Will is crucial, and one of the best investments of time and money you will ever make.
From making provisions for the people and causes you love, to avoiding wasted time, money and the stress of uncertainty - here are the top 10 reasons why you should make writing a Will a priority.
1. Decide how your assets (your Estate) should be distributed
This is the number one reason most people decide to write a Will. And it’s a good one! Clearly stating your intentions about what you want to leave to your family, friends and charities is key here. It requires some planning and is best spelled out in detail.
Including instructions in your Will could be a clever way of regifting that crocheted tea cosy to Aunty Barbara. And really, it’s the only way of ensuring your collection of 70’s vinyl ends up with someone who’ll appreciate it!
But seriously, it’s important to understand that if you die without a Will (known as Intestacy), the law in each Australian state and territory will determine who benefits. It complicates the process, and the result might not be the one you’d hoped for.
2. Take care of your children
Who would you want to care for your children if something unexpected happened to you and your partner? Depending on your circumstances, this may be either a straightforward choice or a complicated one.
Quite understandably, this decision could bring up uncomfortable feelings and can lead to disagreement between parents, which is why so many of us avoid facing it.
The reality is, though, that you certainly don’t want something this important left unplanned for. Without a proper set of instructions, guardianship of young children can be decided on by the law, and this adds a level of bureaucracy to an already stressful situation.
An even more troubling possibility is that if you don’t have a clear Will, the legal right to care for your children could be given to a family member or other person that you would never have intended to step into that role.
When you write a Will you can also make a considered choice about who should take over the care of your children. And, more importantly, it nudges you towards starting a conversation with your preferred guardians about exactly how you want your children to be raised.
3. Avoid the cost and complication of not having a will
Not having a Will could make Probate (the process of sorting out your Estate when you die) much longer and more expensive than it needs to be. It can add a huge burden of stress and unnecessary costs to what is already a difficult situation, and can easily be avoided by executing a valid Will.
Not only that, but a court could decide to divide your property and assets in a way that you hadn’t intended.
4. Identify who you want to be Executor
An Executor plays the starring role in managing your Estate. You want this important position to be filled by someone you feel comfortable with.
Without lining up a trusted Executor, and making it clear who that person is in your Will, your Estate could go through a potentially complicated administration process. In this situation a lot of groundwork may need to take place before your assets can be handed out after a “grant of administration” has been given.
5. Make sure your pets receive the love and care they’re accustomed to
Your fur babies are a big part of your family, but pets are often forgotten about when it comes to estate planning. Without including them in your Will, however, your pet will be treated as ‘chattel’ at law to be dealt with by your Executor.
Thankfully, you can include instructions about your pets within your Will, including who you want to look after them if something were to happen to you (a ‘Pet Guardian’), and allocating money for your pets’ care and maintenance (a ‘Pet Care Fund’).
This ensures that not only will you have certainly over who is going to look after your pet if you were to pass away, but also that they will not be out of pocket or financially impacted by caring for your pet. You can read more about what happens to your pet when you die here.
6. Donate to charity and causes you believe in
Are you a dog lover? An environmentalist? Keen to support a social enterprise doing good stuff that you admire?
There may be causes and charities that you want to acknowledge as part of your legacy. By leaving instructions for gifts and charitable donations in your Will, you can show just how important they are to you.
Safewill has partnered with a range of charities, making it easy to donate in a way that suits you and your interests.
7. Plan for uncertainty
What if life deals you an unexpected set of cards? We all know someone who passed away before their time or in circumstances no one counted on.
And, yes, it’s part of being human to procrastinate and practice avoidance when it comes to thinking of your death, or the deaths of people close to you.
Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of life. Writing a Will is a way of knowing that your wishes, and the security of the people you love most, will be taken care of after you’re gone. It can be a concrete and reassuring way to reduce fear of the “unknown”.
8. A Will is a “living” document and can be changed
Writing a Will is a starting point for your end of life planning. Don’t think of it, once written, as being set in stone or locked away in a dusty vault.
Each major life event - acquiring new property, having children, starting or ending a relationship - can change the way you want your possessions to be distributed and your personal affairs to be ordered.
As an online Will platform, Safewill makes it super simple to change things up whenever you need to.
9. Have a voice on how you want to be remembered
More and more people these days are realising that their idea of a meaningful “send off” just isn’t served by a traditional cookie cutter funeral. A wake, party, shared meal, community event or a nature-based memorial may be more your vibe.
Make sure your family and friends remember you in the way that would mean most to you by including your intentions in your Will.
10. Secure your digital footprint and tie up all the loose ends
Life in the 21st century is #complicated! Things that past generations didn’t have to consider, like making sure social media and “digital assets” are taken care of, is something that can also be organised as part of writing your Will.
Safewill makes it easy to leave instructions on consolidating, closing or managing your important digital accounts. It provides a central place where they can be easily dealt with by the person you nominate. You can read more about it here.
We hope this round up of the top 10 reasons why you need to write a Will has given you food for thought on the benefits they provide you and your family.
More than anything, writing a Will is a way of making your intentions clear and not leaving your legacy to chance.
Learn how Safewill can help you get started right now on making your own secure online Will.