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Three common myths about wills

Three Common Myths about wills

Myth One

“I don’t need a will. If I die, everything automatically goes to my spouse anyway.”

The truth: In some respects this is true, as a person’s spouse is the first in line to inherit from an intestate estate. Without a will in place, the person will have passed away ‘intestate’, and the estate will be bound to follow a statutory order of beneficiaries set by the law in New South Wales to determine who is eligible to inherit the estate. However, this is still a dangerous way of thinking. You should consider what would happen if this person’s spouse subsequently remarries or has children or step-children to a new partner? What if the spouse is bankrupt or has financial troubles and the estate assets he or she receives will pass automatically to the creditors of the bankrupt estate. What if this is already their second marriage, or worse, if there is a second spouse eligible to receive part of the estate? There are many different scenarios which would mean that this line of thinking would not play out as the person had imagined.

Myth Two

“If I die without a will, the government receives all of my estate.”

The truth: The New South Wales government is last in the line of a long list of relatives to receive a person’s estate when they have passed away without a will or ‘intestate’. The estate must exhaust every possible person in your family tree before the estate will pass to the government. The statutory order of beneficiaries is your spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings, then grandparents, then aunts/uncles, then cousins and then finally to the government.

Myth Three

“My will is really simple. A homemade DIY will kit is good enough.”

The truth: Will drafting can be quite complex. There are certain ways of writing clauses in wills that have been tried and tested over the years so as to remove any confusion about what the will-maker is trying to achieve in their will. There are also quite strict rules about signing your will and having it witnessed. Common mistakes in drafting and signing your will could mean that the will is invalid.

Need to get your will organised? Talk to the team at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers today.

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