Wills and Succession

Dying intestate can be disastrous for your next of kin or loved ones. Making a Will which is not properly considered, can be too.  While making a Will can be difficult, upsetting or time consuming, it is very necessary.  It is important to make sure that you are able to provide for those who depend on you and those you wish to benefit on your death. What this means is that from time to time, you may have to change your Will depending on your circumstances. So for example, it is important to review your will at the time of each new life event and to consider whether it is necessary to make a new Will in the event such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.  It is also important to specify why you are making or changing your Will.  This can be done through what is termed a Letter of Wishes which expressly sets out the reasons why you have made your Will in the terms that it is made. It can also set out why you have left your money or your estate to one person and not to the other. Wills can be subject to challenge in Australia under the Succession Act 2006.  It is important therefore to give careful consideration to whom you select as beneficiaries for whom you chose as beneficiaries.

In some cases, it can be important to document your reasons.  If you have property in other jurisdictions outside of Australia, it is wise to make one Will for your Australian assets and one for the country in which you own other assets. In each instance you should specify that your Will is for that distinct jurisdiction.  There are so many Australians who come from other countries. Families may have property in a different country. Each country has its own laws of Succession. If you die intestate, your estate is divided in accordance the Laws of Succession of the country in which you live. In each country, these rules are also different. Generally there is a formula for the division of the assets and often this formula is extremely unfair.  The cost of making a Will is not as expensive as the cost and the psychological suffering  for not making one.  In the end, the estate will pay for the litigation, but who will pay for the pain?

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