One of the most significant worries for anyone writing a will is the possibility that the will may be contested after his or her death. Read the excerpt below to learn how you can write a watertight will.
The Legality of the Will
If your will does not meet the minimum legal requirements, beneficiaries may dispute it in court. In Australia, a legal will must meet the following criteria;
- The testator must be of sound mind and above 18 years of age.
- It should be signed by the testator on each page.
- Two witnesses should sign the will.
- The document should not contain confusing information. In addition, it should not contradict previous contracts such as premarital or post-marital agreements.
An excluded beneficiary may go to court claiming that you have a moral obligation to provide for them. It could be your former spouse or a child from a previous marriage. To prevent this, you should state the reasons why the beneficiary was left out. Alternatively, you could include all beneficiaries in the will.
Disgruntled beneficiaries may claim that the will is fake. Avoid this by leaving a copy of your will with your lawyer. If you intend to change the will, include a codicil or destroy the old will and make a new one.
If you are sure that beneficiaries will dispute the will, make a video of yourself reading out the will. The video must be clear and should not include any information that is not in the will. Leave the video with your lawyer or someone you trust.
Management of Trusts
You must exercise caution when setting up trusts. For instance, a discretionary trust may be disputed if a trustee makes unequal allocations to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries could also sue an appointor who they feel is misusing his or her powers. Preferably, go for a unit trust where each beneficiary is entitled to a specific percentage of the estate's returns. Additionally, choose a trustee who can manage the trust without prejudice.
Executing the Will
Another option would be to execute the will while alive. Distribute your assets to your beneficiaries and leave a small portion of the estate to cater to your daily needs. This is a suitable option for senior adults who no longer have the strength to run their estate.
The above tips will ensure your estate is divided and managed according to your wishes. A wills and estate lawyer can guide you as you create your will.