Thursday, 19 February 2015

You are never too young to have a Will

Recently a friend of mine passed away.  He was very young, not sick and it came completely out of the blue.  He had no dependents, lived at home and like most young people (including myself) he had no will nor had he given any thought (or provided any indication) about how he would like his personal possessions dealt with.

If you have no dependents you don't really need a will...right?

Honestly that was pretty much the approach I had taken until now.  I have no dependents and if I passed away people could do with my stuff as they liked...I'm no longer here and there is no one I need to look no worries right?

As I found out I couldn't be more wrong

Even if we are not 'responsible' for anyone our affairs (especially our financial affairs) still need to be dealt with by someone.  Normally it will be a family member who will step up but essentially you are putting the responsibility on them of deciding what should be done with your things and how it should be split up.

Does your next of kin know what you want done with your affairs and who you want taken care of?  Do they even know how many bank accounts you have or where everything is?  Are you going to create problems for them if you don't have a plan that you have thought through?  Do you care who gets looked after and who misses out?

Honestly these are all very real questions.  It is hard enough to deal with these issues when a family is functional and close (as my friend's family is) however can you imagine if this happened in a family where there was dysfunction (as many are)?

Having a will is the easiest way of ensuring the basics are taken care of

Honestly having a will is the easiest way to ensure that
  1. The people and causes you care about are taken care of
  2. The person you want to deal with your financial affairs will be the one who does so
  3. A reduced chance of fighting and dysfunction occurring on your behalf
  4. It doesn't leave your assets and their disposal in the hands of the government (in the event of no will there is a specified order of preference for who receives your assets)
Wills don't have to be incredibly expense.  In some states in Australia (and other places) there are public trustees who will help you make a will for free.  In others law firms will often do promotions where they offer free will kits (note in Australia Slater and Gordon seem to do this reasonably often).

Note that a will needs to be created in the proper way if it is to be legal and if it is not to be contested at a later point (i.e. you can't just write down your wishes on a piece of paper and have it stand up later).

Making a will is remarkably easy.  It isn't something you should put off until old age because you never know what can happen.  I haven't completed my will yet but I am definitely motivated to do so now.

You can go further than just creating a will

A will isn't the only thing you can do to make things easier for the ones you leave behind.  If your financial affairs are reasonably complicated (like most peoples get to be after a while) you can do things like the following:
  1. Have a list of bank accounts which are in your name (if you have more than one)
  2. Have all your titles and deeds in one safe place
  3. Have nominees already in place for any insurance and superannuation that you have
You probably know where everything is but I can guarantee you that no one else does.  Don't make life hard for them when your next of kin or executor needs to sort through it.  These are just things you can do to make life easier for those who are left behind.

Do you have any other tips on what I and others can do to have our affairs neatly laid out?  I would love to hear them!

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1 comment:

  1. Wow shame to hear about your friend 90M, it's tough when that happens..
    This is actually something that I've recently had done myself as it is a thing that I would not want my friends or more likely family to have to make the tough decisions..

    Also handy for them to know, as you say what you have in terms of assets.. Having a POA (Power of Attorney) is a decent thing as well and usually part of a will process, plus you're right, cost me $800, probably too much but oh well