August 8, 2023

Learning how to write a will in Australia is a crucial step in ensuring your wishes are accurately documented and legally binding. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of creating a well-structured and legally sound will specifically in New South Wales.

Step 1: Initial Consultation with a Solicitor

Begin the process by consulting a solicitor who will conduct a holistic review of your asset situation, financial arrangements, objectives, beneficiaries, and wishes. This step lays the foundation for a comprehensive will that addresses your unique circumstances.

Step 2: Determine Your Assets

Identify all your assets, including those held solely and jointly with another person or interests in companies/trusts. Each asset may need different treatment, so it’s essential to address them individually in your will.

Step 3: Appointing Executors

Select suitable executors for your will, and consider appointing substitute executors as a backup option. Executors play a vital role in ensuring your wishes are carried out after your passing.

Step 4: Special Provisions and Bequests

Include any specific bequests or provisions you wish to make, such as charitable donations or guardianship arrangements for minor children.

Step 5: Guardianship for Minor Children

If you have minor children, use your will to appoint a guardian who will be responsible for their care if anything happens to you.

Step 6: Beneficiary Designations

Clearly state the individuals or entities that will inherit your assets, including ‘catastrophe clauses’ to address situations where beneficiaries pass away before you.

Step 7: Review and Finalization

Review drafts of your will provided by your solicitor and seek clarifications or request amendments as needed. Once finalised, the will must be officially witnessed by two adults who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries.

Step 8: Safe Custody Option

Consider storing the original will in safe custody to ensure its safekeeping and easy retrieval when needed.

Step 9: Regular Review and Updates

Periodically review and update your will, especially after significant life events like marriages, divorces, births, or deaths, to reflect changes in your circumstances or wishes.

Key Components to Include in Your Will:
  1. Personal Details: Include your full name, address, and relevant identifying information.
  1. Executors and Substitute Executors: Clearly appoint the individuals responsible for executing your will.
  1. Revocation of Previous Wills: State that the new will revokes all previous wills and codicils.
  1. Distribution of Assets: Specify any specific gifts or bequests you want to make.
  1. Residual Clause: Include a residual clause to distribute any assets not explicitly mentioned.
  1. Guardianship of Minor Children: Designate a guardian to care for your minor children.
  1. Funeral and Burial Instructions: Express your wishes regarding organ donation, cremation, or burial.
  1. Charitable Bequests: If you wish to include charitable donations, ensure they are worded correctly.
  1. Digital Assets: Consider your digital assets and how you want them handled.
  1. Trust Interests: Address your interests in trusts, if applicable, and appoint an alternate if needed.
  1. Superannuation Assets: Evaluate your superannuation assets and consider binding death benefit nominations for SMSFs or retail funds.

Writing your will in NSW is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes. By following this step-by-step guide and including essential components, you can create a comprehensive and legally binding will that reflects your intentions and protects your assets.

Remember to review and update your will periodically to account for life changes. Seeking professional legal advice will further ensure that your will is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

If you are considering a DIY Will Kit, review this before making your decision DIY Will Kits vs. Tailored Advice: The Smart Choice for Your Legacy