Posted on: 15 September 2016
The last thing you want is for your beneficiaries to be fighting over your estate when you're gone. It's an unpleasant thought—that they would be fighting over the distribution of small sentimental items, or that they would even be debating the finer aspects of property law in an effort to claim a larger share of the value of your property. You might feel that your will is going to clarify your intentions, and in most cases, this will be true. But if you believe that there might be disagreements or even disputes when your will is executed, then you might need to take some extra steps. So how can you do your best to ensure that your will be accepted as fair?
Keep It up to Date
It might sound simple, but it's important to remember that you actually have a will. If you have not kept it up to date to reflect any change in circumstances, then the risk of a dispute can increase. Keep your will up to date by periodically reviewing it so that you're satisfied with the disbursement of your assets. It should also take any changes to your circumstances into account. This can involve the death of any beneficiaries, or the births of any new family members. You might wish to include charitable donations, and yes, you might even wish to exclude certain beneficiaries in the event of a breakdown of your relationship with that particular person. An up-to-date will is more likely to be viewed as fair and in line with your wishes.
Reading of the Will
This is a common scene in many movies and TV shows, wherein the beneficiaries gather together at a lawyer's office for a reading of the will. While such an event can take place in Australia, there is no legal obligation for this to happen. But there's a certain logic to it in that all the beneficiaries can learn who has inherited what, and why. You can communicate your reasons for the disbursement of your assets without needing a reading of the will.
You might wish to write a letter to the executor of your will, which communicates your reasons for the specific disbursement of your assets. Your reasons are clearly articulated which can be then be passed onto the respective beneficiaries by the executor of your will. It might be that you left a larger portion of your estate to a certain person due to the number of dependants in their life, or due to their financial difficulties. By clearly articulating your reasons, the chances of the will being contested are reduced.
Talking About It
Another straightforward way to minimise the chance of a contested will is to talk to your beneficiaries about who will receive what, and why. This gives an opportunity for you to clearly communicate your reasons directly to the relevant parties. It also means that there will be no surprises when the will is executed.
By taking a few extra steps when planning your will, you will know that your beneficiaries will view it as fair and that your final wishes will not be challenged.Share