Administering Estates

I Have a Will, What Else do I Need to Know?

Experienced Adelaide Wills and Estates lawyer Rod Behenna outlines eight important and often forgotten points about your Will.

Experienced Adelaide Wills and Estates lawyer Rod Behenna outlines eight important and often forgotten points about your Will.

1. The original copy of your Will is a most important document and should be treated accordingly.  Most lawyers maintain a deed facility where you are welcome to leave your Will.  Putting it in a Bank Safe Custody facility can cause problems if your executors or family cannot access that.

2. You should not write on the original Will or use any fastening devices on it such as pins or glider clips.  Doing any of these things will cause difficulty in obtaining a grant of probate.

3. Your executors (and, if appropriate, members of your family) should be informed of the whereabouts of the original Will.  It is good practice to note this on your copy.

4. If you have not already done so you should confirm that the executors you have named would be willing to accept the role which commences immediately on your death.

5. Your executors and family should be told of your wishes about funeral arrangements even if these are referred to in your Will.  They should be told if you have a “pre-paid” funeral plan.

6. Your Will should be kept up to date. It should be reviewed in the light of any of the following circumstances affecting yourself or members of your family:

– Births

– Deaths

– Marriages (your own marriage automatically revokes your Will) or on-going relationships

– Divorces (your own revokes the parts of your Will referring to an ex-spouse)

– Bankruptcies

– Re-arrangement of affairs (eg Family Trusts)

– Changes in the location or suitability of executors.

7. Acting as a guarantor could cause problems in the administration and finalisation of an estate.  The potential liability as guarantor flows through to your estate and is not extinguished until all of the debtors (or, alternatively, guarantors) obligations are discharged.

8. Superannuation arrangements need to be constantly monitored.

Superannuation entitlements do not necessarily form part of your estate to be dealt with according to the terms of your Will.

A direction given to trustees of the superannuation fund is not necessarily binding on them and may not be followed when persons other than the nominated beneficiary could be defined as being “dependent” on yourself.

You also need to periodically check whether any directions (either “binding” or “non-binding”) given to the trustees of the fund are appropriate for your present circumstances.

“Binding” directions may need to be refreshed every three years.

The above are just some of the important matters that you should bear in mind in the context of your Will.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. You should seek appropriate professional advice and assistance whenever circumstances change.

For further information or assistance contact your nearest TGB office.