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What Do I Need to Include in my Will?

When drawing up your will, you should consider the following questions.

  • Who will be my beneficiaries? Beneficiaries are the people and/or charities to whom you will give all or part of your estate.
  • Who will be my executor(s)? The  executor is the person(s) or Trustee Company who will make sure that your instructions in the will are carried out.
  • Who will look after my children? You will need to appoint a guardian for any children aged under 18 or any children not able to care for themselves.
  • Do I want to leave anyone out of the will? If you decide to exclude someone from your will, it is best if you outline your reasons for doing so in the will. Keep in mind that the law expects you to make adequate provision for anyone for whom you are responsible. If you don’t make provision, the Court may order that adequate provision be made out of the estate.
  • Do I want to impose any conditions on a beneficiary’s right to receive a gift? Some conditions are allowable, and some are not. For example, you can state that a minor cannot receive their cash benefit until the age of 25. However, you cannot prohibit a spouse from remarrying, and you cannot prohibit a child from marrying someone of a certain race or religion. Such conditions will be ignored, because they are regarded as offending ‘public policy’.
  • What funeral arrangements do I want?
  • Will I authorise or prohibit the use of my body for scientific or medical research?
  • Do I want an enduring power of attorney or guardianship? An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that authorises another person to act on your behalf and manage your affairs if you become incapacitated . It is usually prepared at the same time as a will.
  • What do I want to happen if my beneficiaries die before or with me?
  • What assets and property should be included in my will?

What don’t I need to include in my will?

All jointly owned assets automatically pass to the other person when you die.

Any life insurance policies can be paid into your estate to be distributed as part of your will, or they can be paid directly to the nominated person, depending on the arrangement made when you took out the policy and the insurance company’s requirements.

Any superannuation monies can be included in your will, but the superannuation fund does not have to abide by your wishes. Normally, their first priority is to benefit direct dependents, and they will do this independently of the will process. As superannuation is often one of our most valuable assets, it is important to know what will happen when you die. If you are unsure, get legal advice. For more information about superannuation death benefits, click here.

Next Section: What is an executor?