One of the topics people most want to talk about is wills, when we get together to chat at talks on the subject of preparing for a good death.
It’s best to get individual advice from a lawyer, who can drill down into your very particular circumstances. But here are a few general points about your will, which everyone should know – and you don’t need a lawyer to explain these.
If the will isn’t made in accordance with strict legal requirements it may not be valid so it’s a waste of paper and time.
It must be in writing – but it can be handwritten.
The most important thing is to make sure it has been witnessed correctly. The witnessing requirements vary from state to state and country to country. So make sure you understand the legal rules for the area that you live in.
If there’s any question about the validity of the witnessing process, it could lead to legal battles which are expensive.
In NSW, as in many other places, the witnesses don’t need to know what is in the will. They’re not signing to say they know the contents or approve of them. They are simply validating that the person who made the will was in front of them when that person signed the will.
You can see why this is important. Imagine if a will could be made without any proof that the person was there and created it. It would be too easy to make a fake.
If you’re a beneficiary of the will, don’t witness it being signed, as this could easily lead to challenges to your right to be a beneficiary.
The safest way to ensure your will is considered valid is to lodge it with a solicitor or in NSW, with the NSW Trustee & Guardian.
For more about preparing your will, go to: https://legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/rest-assured-legal-guide-wills-estates-planning-ahead-and-funerals-nsw/making
To help the Bayside Community celebrate Seniors Week, I was part of a conversation about all the things you can do to prepare for a good death, including preparing your paper work.
We shared a lot of information about end of life decision making over morning tea in a relaxed environment at the Eastlakes Community Centre. Karen Buckley from Home Instead facilitated and a representative of Kingsford Legal Centre shared her vast knowledge, with an emphasis on wills.
At our Eastgardens event, Amy Sagar from Tender Funerals shared in great detail and yet with real warmth how her business keeps the focus on the individual and their community.
“It’s all about empowerment,” Amy said, adding that this is one of her favourite words.