What is a Will?


A will may be the most important legal document that you will ever sign. It is a document that applies upon your death and says who inherits your assets; who will be the guardian of your infant children; and who will run your estate. (The person who runs your estate is called an “Executor”). You can change, or revoke your Will at any time if you are of sound mind, by creating a new Will, or a variation of your current Will via a document called a Codicil




What makes a Will legally binding?


To create a binding Will that the court will permit your Executors to act upon there are certain rules you need to comply with:

  • Firstly you must be of sound mind;
  • Secondly you must be acting of your own free will and not be unduly influenced or coerced by someone else; and
  • The Will needs to be properly witnessed by two adults who must watch you sign it. It is best if they are not related to you and they will not receive anything from your estate.




What happens if you die without a Will?


If you don’t have a current and legally binding Will when you die the government says who gets what from your estate. Each State and Territory in Australia have laws in place in this respect, and each State and Territory law is different. Most specify that your estate will be divided between your spouse and your children. If you have no wife or children your estate is divided amongst your closest living relatives. If you have no living relatives your estate goes to the government.




What do I do with my Will after it is signed?


As noted above, your Will, may be the most important legal document that you will ever sign. Accordingly you should store it in your own fireproof safe, or in a bank/lawyers/private safe custody facility. Let your Executor know where it is stored




Can I appoint more than one executor?


Yes. Several options are provided for in the Act. For example, you may appoint two or more executors to act jointly (together), or as a majority (simple, two-thirds, etc.) or severally (any one of your attorneys can sign), or alternatively/successively (power is given to a particular executor when the power given to another executor ends, or when the other executor is not available to make decisions). If you choose two or more executors to make decisions jointly, they have equal authority and can act only with the agreement of them all. If one executor dies, the remaining executors exercise the power. It is important that your intentions be expressed clearly.




What is a an Executor?


An EXECUTOR at law is a person who carries out or performs something. When you appoint a person as Executor in your Will that person is appointed to carry out the terms of your Will for you.




What is a Beneficiary?


A BENEFICIARY at law is someone who receives a benefit. In relation to your Will a Beneficiary is a person who is entitled to benefit under the terms of your Will.




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