Christmas is a time for family, right? Well, it is for most of us. It’s a time to get together over a meal, and a few drinks, and talk about how little Joey and Suzie have grown. According to Michelle Gold, Wills and Estates specialist at Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers, it is also a time to consider some of the more serious questions like who you’d like to look after your children, your pet, and your sentimental jewellery if something terrible was to happen to you.
Michelle says, discussing who gets what if you suddenly pass away while all family members are in the room can save bitter arguments and disagreements once you, or your loved one, has ‘passed away’.
“Having a discussion with your family about what happens to your assets before you die, is a very good idea”, Michelle said, “Having a legal Will is essential to implementing your wishes”.
According to Michelle, most people don’t have a Will because they believe they are too young, think they don’t have any assets or just never got around to it.
“Unfortunately, if you don’t outline your wishes then people may fight over your assets, and government formulas will come into play”, Michelle outlined.
Also, Michelle says that many people are unaware that they might have superannuation death benefits and other life insurance payments.
Another reason to get a Will in place is if you are planning a long holiday.
“If you are planning a big family holiday it is a good idea to have your Will and Power of Attorney in place, just in case something happens to you”, Michelle recommended.
So, why get a lawyer to assist you with your Will and Power of Attorney instead of buying a $20 Will kit online and doing it yourself?
“One of the common traps with Will kits is that people complete them in a way that doesn’t comply with the law, and it then ends up costing more to be approved by the Court after you die,” Michelle explained.
“With do-it-yourself Will kits, people often incorrectly deal with assets they might not be able to give away in their Will, such as joint tenancies and assets held by family trusts.
“Parents should also nominate who the guardians of their minor children would be after they die.”
Michelle says that there are also some key appointments that you need to make, such as the executor of your Will.
“The executor is who you would like to be in charge of your Will, and can be more than one person”, Michelle explained.
There is a perception that getting your Will done by a lawyer is expensive. Michelle says that Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers offer competitive rates while maintaining high-quality service.
So, what are the benefits of getting a lawyer to assist you with your Will?
“A lawyer considers your whole picture including your superannuation, joint tenancies, to whom you can legally leave your assets to, and protecting yourself against potential claims”, Michelle concluded.
So, summing up, have fun this Christmas when getting together with the family, but also use it as an opportunity to make things clear about your wishes – after all, you wouldn’t want your beloved pet ending up in the wrong hands.
Michelle is also a member of the Elder Law Committee and Estate Planning Group of the ACT Law Society.
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