First and foremost: the biggest mistake is not having a Will at all. This can create a mess for your surviving family members and have serious inheritance consequences.
However, this alone is not enough. Leaving decisions to the last moment and failing to update your Will can create problems and mistakes.
We hear about these far too often:
- Leaving decisions to the last moment. Decisions made in haste often lack thought and proper consideration of possible ‘what if’ scenarios.
- Last minute situations also raise the possibility that someone could claim that your Will was made under pressure or with diminished capacity.
- You may die unexpectedly and not leave a Will.
- Issues with leaving a large lump sum inheritance.
- Some beneficiaries may not be able to handle a large inheritance, especially if they are in their 20s or 30s. It could be better to leave inherited family assets in a trust. Trusts can provide tax and asset protection advantages e.g., if a family trust beneficiary divorces or falls into financial difficulty.
As digital assets are becoming more common, it is critical to give your executor the ability to navigate this before you pass away otherwise it may be lost entirely. You should ensure that you keep good records and instructions of how to store, find and access digital asset information.
Signing a Will and forgetting about it is an increasingly common theme. Your Will should be reviewed every 3 to 5 years as personal and family circumstances change. This is important because:
- Your wealth will grow or reduce over time;
- You could decide to change guardians if you have young (minor) children;
- Previous executors and trustees appointed may unfortunately be estranged, unwell, incapacitated or deceased;
- You should make sure your beneficiaries inherit the desired assets e.g., superannuation, investments, the family home, life insurance policies and any other sums of money.
- You need to reduce the risk of any conflict between your executors, trustees and beneficiaries.
Following the above tips can help avoid Will making mistakes. Your Will should not be seen as a long term “set and forget” document. It is an ongoing process to ensure your wishes can be smoothly implemented.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Contact our Wills and Estates team at Long Saad Woodbridge Lawyers on (02) 9279 4888. Our team will be able to help you get your affairs in order. Our comprehensive estate plan includes holding your key original documents in safe custody, so they are never lost, damaged or destroyed. We recommend we also hold:
- a copy of your ID;
- any non-binding letter of wishes to your executors, attorneys ang guardians;
- your key asset details including original certificates of title; plus
- any other important personal or family paperwork which will assist your executors, attorneys and guardians.
Our team at Long Saad Woodbridge lawyers has significant Wills and Estates experience. Headed by Executive Lawyer Matthew Smith, our expertise includes wills, private trusts, estate and trust administration, capacity law issues, powers of attorney, enduring guardianship appointments, probate, equity and trusts law. If even the best planning is not entirely successful, we can assist so that your family is not left to deal with a poorly drafted Will that may inevitably complicate and delay the carrying out of your wishes.