While not having a will is certainly an issue (some 45% of Australians die without a will), The GroundSwell Project says 75 per cent of Australians have not had end of life discussions. This means that many families really have not much idea at all as to what their loved one may have wanted in regards to things like a funeral and how the estate is to be divided up.

It’s not always the case when there is no will for there to be unconstrained strife.  Bill Spencer was 26 when he suffered a fatal brain injury in a skateboard accident on the NSW south coast. He and his partner, Leigh Nelson, had not planned for death because they were young and didn’t think that death would visit so soon.  Mr Spencer did not have a will and so according to intestacy rules, the majority of his estate went to his parents.

Leigh said, “Fortunately for me I’m very close to my partner’s family,” who agreed for the estate to be given to Leigh, allowing her to remain in the home she and Bill had bought. Leigh now warns her friends of the dangers of not having a will. “I have raised it with a number of my friends, you’ve got to plan for the worst and hope for the best, if everything isn’t sorted right you can end up in heartbreak,” she said.

Estate planning should not be put off.  The most basic element of this is writing a will, and you should always seek legal advice when creating an estate plan.  It’s not just about what you own. While a will allows assets to go to beneficiaries you name, it also addresses naming a guardian if you have minor children, which is extremely important. Estate planning also helps protect against families fighting, or someone potentially contesting the will of the deceased. Where clients don’t have proper planning, families have been torn apart. It’s important to remember not just to get a will now, but to update it as your circumstances change. You may have more children or grandchildren when you die, or you may not own then what you own now. There may have been a death or divorce in the family. You should consider what changes like this will have upon your estate planning.

If you need assistance with estate planning, contact us today. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation.