Making a Will
When making a will, it is important to have it drafted by a professional to ensure that what is drafted in your will accurately reflects what you want to happen when you pass away.
There are plenty of options out there for free wills to be made online or do-it-yourself homemade will kits that might seem appealing to you. However, whilst it might seem like a simply task to make a will, the law is complex and when you are dealing with such an important document, it is essential that you get it right. You won’t get a second chance.
At Johnsons, we offer an extremely reasonable fixed price of $200 for making a will. In the end, it is a small price to pay for such an important document that will have a lasting effect.
- My wife and I want to make a will, can we just do one will?
No. Every person needs to have their own will prepared. This is because, when the first person passes away, the original will is lodged with the Supreme Court and is not returned. This would then leave the second person without a will.
In situations with a husband and wife, the most common occurrence is for our clients to want “mutual wills”. What this means is that the wills mirror each other.
- What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, it is known as dying “intestate”. If this happens, someone close to you will need to put their hand up to apply for the role of administrator in an application for letters of administration. Under letters of administration, your estate will be distributed in accordance with a formula set out in the succession legislation. Whilst in common family arrangements, this might not cause any issue, there still is a much greater likelihood of disputes occurring if you die intestate, particularly in blended families.
- What is an executor?
The executor is the legal personal representative of the estate. It is the person who represents the estate and makes sure that your wishes are carried out. When making a will, the executor is the person who instructs the lawyers in the application for probate and sign the court documents. It is a role which carries strict obligations with their role primarily to be to obtain probate, pay your debts and distribute your assets in line with your wishes in you will. Because of this, it is important to appoint an executor who is someone close to you and knows your affairs, they will need to know what assets you have so that the lawyers know what assets to call in. In your will, you can appoint as many executors as you like.
- Can I change my will?
Yes. You can change your will as many times as you like. In fact, you should definitely change your will if your personal circumstances change, for example, if you get married, divorced or someone named in your current will passes away.
- If I get married or divorced, should I make a new will?
Yes, definitely. If you get married and have an existing will, unless your will is drafted a particular way, it will be invalidated. Similarly, if you get divorced, any existing will that mentions your ex-spouse will have any particular clauses in the will that mention your ex cancelled. If your ex is appointed as executor, that appointment will be cancelled or if your ex is to receive a gift under the will, the gift will fail.
You should always make a new will when you get married or divorced.
- Where do I store my will?
At Johnsons, we offer a free service of storing our clients’ original wills in our safe custody. If you want to store your original will at home, it is important that it is kept safe. When you pass away, only the original will is effective when making an application for probate so it is essential that it does not get lost or destroyed.
- If I make a new will, what happens to my old will?
When you make a new will, any old will made by you is automatically revoked. Under succession laws, the most recent will is the valid will (provided that it is made validly). However, to be certain, the first clause we put in every will is that any previous will is revoked.
You do not need to physically locate and destroy the old will, however, it is good practice to do so as having more than one original will out there has the potential of causing confusion or disputes if people are not sure of where your most recent will is located.