Top 10 mistakes in making a will
It’s possible to write your own Will, but there are pitfalls for the unwary which can result in your estate not going where you intended it to go. Joshua Crowther, Wills and Estates specialist at Stacks Law Firm, lists the 10 most common mistakes:
1. Picking the wrong executor – the most important role in administering your estate. If it’s a complicated Will and there is a blended family it may be wise to pick more than one executor or a professional (such as a lawyer or accountant) to ensure the Will is carried out according to your wishes.
2. Not changing your Will if you remarry, as a marriage revokes a Will. (For more information please see Does marriage or divorce automatically revoke a will?)
3. Not providing your superannuation fund with a ‘binding nomination’ (where that’s possible). Without one, the trustees of the fund decide who gets your super, not you.
4. Failing to consider tax consequences for beneficiaries. Passing superannuation to a dependent such as a spouse, minor or disabled child is tax free, but if your super goes to an adult child it could be taxed at the top rate.
5. If tax consequences are an issue, have you considered the use of a testamentary trust? This is a complex area so it’s best to consult someone who specialises in this area of law.
6. If there’s a risk of family break up, what arrangements have you made to make sure the inheritance left for your kids doesn’t end up in the hands of your in-laws? Again, a testamentary trust could help to protect inheritance.
7. If one of your beneficiaries dies, do you want their share to go to their children or to other beneficiaries?
8. If passing to a minor child, at what age do you want them to inherit? The normal vesting age is 18 but it might be wise to wait until they’re a little older and wiser.
9. If one of your beneficiaries dies before you (or within 30 days of your death), such as in a vehicle accident, how do you want that beneficiary’s share to be distributed to others? Your son-in-law or daughter-in-law could marry again and change their Will so that their new partner inherits the estate. This could cut your grandchildren out of any future inheritance.
10. If you want to make sure your pets are looked after, you normally need to insert a special trust clause. You can’t leave money to a pet.
“In short, if you have a large estate or a complex ‘Brady Bunch’ type family it’s really important to get the Will set up properly so the inheritance goes where you wish,” said Joshua Crowther.