Basically anyone who is 18 years of age or over should have a Will. The Will is the document that directs the executor to deal with your property pursuant to your instructions in the Will upon your death.
The Executor is the person who has the role of carrying out your wishes pursuant to the Will. The Executor can be any person whether it be a relative or not and can also be a beneficiary.
A beneficiary is a person who is to receive property or money pursuant to the Will. A beneficiary can be a natural person, can be a company and can be other organisations such as a charity. More and more people are leaving monies to charities and to local charities which often come up are the Griffith Pioneer Trust Fund whereby monies are used for equipment at the Griffith Base Hospital. The Trustees are Griffith people. Also the newly established Moya Gilkes Trust Fund which has been set up in the name of the late Moya Gilkes a long term resident of Leeton for the needs of children suffering from cancer in the Leeton and Barellan areas. Once again it is administered by local trustees.
In a Will you can leave various pieces of property to different people. Most commonly people leave their property to their next of kin. Eg: Husband to wife and vice versa and then upon their death or preceding then to children and grandchildren.
You can have what is commonly called a simple Will which may only be four or five pages in length. Otherwise, in more complex matters people have Testamentary Trusts which provide a lot more flexibility for beneficiaries, taxation benefits for beneficiaries and in particular children if they are beneficiaries and protection of beneficiaries from the Trustee in Bankruptcy and some protection in relation to Family Law matters.
Some people in Wills have requests for specific burial instructions such as cremation, where ashes are to be kept or distributed eg: the Murrumbidgee River, Scenic Hill, or certain properties being the most common request.
In deciding who to leave your property to you don’t necessarily have to provide equally to a certain class of beneficiaries eg: children. However, you should be fair in relation to the distribution. Sometimes people are people are provided for during the testator’s lifetime and therefore there is not much if anything left to such potential beneficiary upon death and many people in making their Wills will have a statement in their Will or a sworn statement attached to the Will as to the reasons why they have made the decision to not provide equally to a certain class of beneficiaries.
At the same time as executing a Will people should also have a Power of Attorney and Power of Guardianship and this shall be discussed at the next interview.
The documents should be reviewed at least every five years or if there is some significant event in the family such as a family law separation, death, purchasers or sale of property and any changes in family relationships.
Aired January 2012 on Radio 2RG Griffith