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Why you need a lawyer when writing a Will

When it comes to estate planning, preparing a Will is a fundamental step to secure your assets and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Because navigating the legal aspects of Will creation can be tricky, it's critical that you engage an experienced lawyer. P&B Law can help guide you through the process of writing a Will, ensuring that it is legally sound and accurately reflects your wishes.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that expresses a person's wishes regarding how their personal property and financial assets will be dealt with after their passing. It allows an individual, known as the Testator or Will Maker, to specify who will receive their personal property and financial assets, how much each beneficiary will receive and under what conditions.

The Will comes into effect only upon the Testator passing away and can be changed at any time up until then, provided they continue to have legal capacity.

Key aspects of a Will

While a Will might seem straightforward, legal nuances can create complications. The Will should contain, among other things, the following:

  • Revocation: This process cancels out any previous Wills or additions to prevent conflicts between multiple documents.
  • Distribution of Residue – Spouse Surviving: This aspect determines how the remaining estate is passed to a surviving spouse.
  • Distribution of Residue – Spouse Not Surviving: This section outlines how the estate's residue is allocated if there is no surviving spouse, typically to children, other relatives, or charitable organisations.
  • Gifts Over to Grandchildren – Testamentary Trusts: Facilitates setting up trusts within the Will for grandchildren to protect assets for their future.
  • Gift Over: A clause for alternate beneficiaries if the primary beneficiaries are unwilling or unable to inherit the estate.
  • Codicil: A modification to an existing Will that allows for updates without a complete rewrite or overhaul.

Key roles involved in a Will

Estate Planning also involves nominating the right people to take on the key roles and responsibilities to be able to assist you now and carry out your wishes in the future.

  • Will Maker: The individual creating the Will expresses their intentions through this document so their personal wishes, predominantly with respect to financial assets, are legally documented.
  • Executor: Appointed to administer the estate according to the Will's directives. The Executor steps into the shoes of the Will Maker and seeks to ensure that the Will Maker's wishes are undertaken.
  • Alternate Executor: This 'backup' role is designated to step in should the Executor be unable or unwilling to fulfil their duties as an Executor. For instance, if the Executor encounters unforeseen health issues or is merely, at the time, unwilling to undertake the role, then the Alternate Executor takes over.
  • Guardian: A Guardian is a trusted person appointed in a Will to care for any children that are under the age of 18 at the time of the passing of the Will Maker until the children reach adulthood. While it is crucial to nominate a person or couple to this role, it is important to note that this is only a recommendation and that if, at the time, the person nominated is practically no longer right, then there is scope to allow for another person or couple to fulfil the important role.
  • Lawyer: Working with a lawyer guarantees your intentions are precisely documented in a legally sound manner. They make sure everything is clear, specific, signed and witnessed in compliance with all relevant legal requirements.

Ready to take control of your future? Contact our experienced team at P&B Law today to get started on your estate planning journey.

Please note: The information covered in this guide is general and should never be substituted for professional legal advice. Contact us for further information.