What is the Point of doing a Will?
To appoint your Executor
Perhaps the most important reason to do a Will is to choose a person who will have the legal authority to finalise your affairs after you have died. This person is called your Executor. When you pass, there will be things that need to be sorted out. Bank Accounts, superannuation funds, and property will need to be closed, finalised or transferred. Organisations like banks, super funds, nursing homes and so on, will need to deal with a person who has legal authority. They may not simply deal with your closest relative or best friend. Legal authority is best given in the form of a Will that appoints an executor.
Normally, people appoint one or two people as their executor, though you can appoint up to four people. They will make decisions together to sort out your estate.
Your executor/s can act alone to sort out or administer your estate, though sometimes executors engage a lawyer to assist them. If there is property to be transferred or the estate is substantial, it may be necessary to do this. Lawyers charge fees for the work they do. The fees are paid from your estate, or if the executors pay them, they will be reimbursed to them from the estate.
To give instructions about how you want your estate to be distributed
This aspect of a Will is the best known. Who do you want to inherit your assets? Sometimes there is a straightforward answer to this, such as:
“I leave everything to my partner, then after we have both passed away, we want everything to go to our children”.
“I leave a cash gift to my best friend, then the rest is left to my siblings in equal shares”.
But there are countless variations to the ‘usual’ scenarios. Every person has particular wishes and (almost) all of these can be put into your Will.
To appoint a guardian for your children
If you are the parent of a child under the age of 18, it is very important that your Will nominates a person who would act as guardian of that child in the event that both parents have passed away.