Locking in your wishes, safeguarding your assets and supporting those you leave behind- they’re all important, they’re all worthwhile and they're all achievable with a valid Will.
However, in certain circumstances, multiple Wills may be required to achieve all three. But just how many Wills can you have, is it legal and- crucially- is it advisable in Australia?
Read on to find out.
In Australia, there is no specific legal limit on the number of Wills a person can have- with the law allowing individuals to create multiple Wills if they have different assets or complex estate planning needs.
Sounds great. More Wills, more estate planning, more security- right?
For some, the multiple Wills allowance can have its benefits. For others, it can create more hassle than it's worth.
With online Wills making it easier than ever to create an estate plan from home, now more than ever it’s worth noting that multiple Wills aren’t the option for everyone. They can end up contradicting, costing a lot and ultimately creating more hassle down the line. But is it ever worth the risk?
Despite varying rules, an Australian Will is accepted within any state of the country. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for foreign countries and there's a risk that an Australian Will will not be recognised for assets held in different places around the world.
If you own property of assets in different countries, multiple Wills for different jurisdictions might be necessary. Below, we’ve dug a bit deeper on why this could be the case:
Complex Asset Distribution:
If your estate is spread across different countries, there's going to be different laws, regulations and paperwork to ensure your assets are protected.
In this scenario, it may be advisable to create separate Wills for each jurisdiction- ensuring that your assets are distributed correctly according to each country's laws. Similarly, having a Will specific to that country ensures that your wishes will be carried out seamlessly, when the time comes.
2. Varying Legal Requirements:
Different jurisdictions may have varying legal requirements for drafting and executing Wills. For foreign assets to be distributed according to a Will, it’s essential this document meets the specific regulations of their location.
Creating separate Wills tailored to the legal requirements of each jurisdiction can help ensure that your Will is valid and enforceable in each location- protecting your assets irrespective of location.
3. Tax Planning and Minimization:
Some countries or states have specific tax laws that can impact the value of your estate and the taxes your beneficiaries may have to pay.
By creating separate Wills for different jurisdictions, you may be able to take advantage of tax exemptions or deductions- ultimately minimising the tax burden on your estate.
Crucially, it is normally only advised a testator creates multiple Wills if they own assets across different countries. Even with the promise of tax minimizations, complications can arise with multiple Wills which make it advisable to stick to one.
Firstly, creating multiple Wills can be expensive. Each Will must be drafted and executed separately, and come with its own set of legal and administration fees. Even if money isn’t an issue, this can create an admin headache where the potential for contradictions may arise.
For multiple Wills to be valid, they must meet the requirements of a simple Will and not contradict. Inconsistencies across several Wills can create confusion and legal disputes- ultimately lengthening the probate process and potential challenges to the validity of your Will.
This can create stress and admin for not only your executors, but also the beneficiaries your Wills were drafted to help. From delays to complications, costs and stress- the presence of multiple Wills can create more challenges even after you're gone.
A simple Will can foster security, asset protection and financial benefits for you and your family. In considering the creation of a trust, engaging in strategic bequest planning or utilising tax-advantaged accounts- you can ensure your leftover assets do good and support the people you love.
For more complex estates, it's advised that you seek professional legal support. Estate lawyers can ensure you stick within the legal framework, whilst also maximising the financial efficiency of your estate.
With this in mind, it’s also important to review and update your simple Will in order to get the most from it. Whether that's to align with changes in tax laws, family circumstances or the value of your assets, keeping your Will up to date ensures it reflects your wishes and optimises the planning of your estate.
Whether you have a mix of assets abroad or a simple estate, Safewill provides the most affordable way to write a valid estate plan. We make it easy, we make it flexible and we even offer specialist legal advice on an estate to estate basis.
Reach out today for help on writing a Will for your specific estate needs, by contacting us on 1800 10 33 10 or via live chat now.