What is a will and why should I make a Will?
Your Will is a legal document which ensures that your assets are distributed after your death according to your wishes. Your Will appoints an executor to distribute your estate.
If you are 18 years or over, you can and should make a Will.
It is important that you make a Will while you are in good health. If you know your affairs are in good order, you will have greater peace of mind if you become ill or disabled.
Dying without a Will can create serious and unnecessary problems for your family or intended beneficiaries as legislation specifies how your estate will be distributed in that situation. In such cases, the order of distribution may be completely contrary to what you would have specified if you had executed a Will.
The absence of a Will inevitably delays and increases the cost of the administration of your estate. A person making a Will can assess the suitability of potential executors to choose the most appropriate person to administer the estate.
By making a valid Will, you have peace of mind knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.
Factors to consider when planning your Will:
- who to appoint as your executor
- the value of your assets (assets being everything you own, such as real estate, motor vehicles, cash, bank accounts, insurance policies, superannuation, shares, business interests and personal effects)
- whom you would like to benefit from your estate
- the manner in which your beneficiaries will benefit (bequests legacies, division of residuary estate, life interests)
- establishing trusts to provide for children under the age of 18 years
- personal wishes (funeral instructions and guardianship of children under 18 years)
- effects of taxation.
Can I change my Will?
Not only is it important to make a Will, but from time to time you should review your Will, and if necessary make a new Will to reflect changes in your circumstances.
Some typical reasons for revising a Will are:
- a change in your matrimonial status
- death of a beneficiary
- the birth of children
- substantial increases or decreases in the value of your assets
- simply a change in personal wishes and preferences
- changes in legislation.
Who can act as an executor and what is the role of an executor?
Any adult person or any statutory trustee company such as Sandhurst Trustees can act as an executor. However, experience shows that only executors with appropriate qualifications and expertise should be given the responsibility of administering an estate.
An executor is responsible for the entire administration of an estate.
Principal duties of an executor
- Communicate with family members and named beneficiaries regarding the provisions of the Will.
- Attend to funeral arrangements.
- Identify assets and liabilities - preparation of statement of assets and liabilities for relevant beneficiaries.
- Protect and maintain assets.
- Advise banks, companies, insurance agencies, debtors, creditors and other applicable organisations of the death.
- Identify beneficiaries named under the Will and their respective entitlements.
- Obtain a grant of probate, if required.
- Realise assets to pay estate liabilities and expenses.
- Settle liabilities and expenses due by the estate.
- Collect all income and monies due to the estate.
- Prepare final taxation returns.
- Prepare final statement of receipts and expenditure.
- Distribute assets of the estate pursuant to the terms and trusts specified in the Will.
- Establish trusts for beneficiaries (minors, charities, life interests), if specified in the Will.
- Payment of legacies and distribution of specific bequests
- Transfer assets or cash to named beneficiaries
- Maintain assets to be held in trust
The complexity of modern life demands that your executor and trustee be:
- experienced in looking after the affairs of others
- competent to carry out the terms of the Will
- understanding and sympathetic in dealing with beneficiaries
- able to devote time to the affairs of others
- always available
- abreast of changes in legislation that relates to estates and trusts.
As a statutory trustee company, Sandhurst Trustees has been administering estates since 1888. The company employs specialist administrative staff qualified to handle the most difficult estate problems. Sandhurst Trustees acts with complete impartiality thus avoiding the possibility of family conflict, which can arise if an individual is appointed as executor.
Disadvantages in appointing an individual as executor or trustee, such as a family member or personal friend:
- The person appointed may die, become ill, leave the district, or renounce his or her appointment before completing the administration of the estate.
- The person appointed may cause unnecessary expense through lack of knowledge.
- The person appointed may not always be available to give information, nor render proper accounts when required.
- The person appointed may be influenced in his or her actions by sympathy for, or pressure from beneficiaries and others.
- • The person's financial position may not offer adequate security in the case of loss.
Sandhurst Trustees' Limited Will and estate services
Sandhurst Trustees will prepare your Will for a fee which is competitive with other professionals in this field. By entrusting Sandhurst Trustees to prepare your Will you can be certain that your Will has been drawn up in a professional manner.
Sandhurst Trustees' specialist staff is experienced in Will preparation and can provide professional advice regarding the distribution of your assets according to your wishes, taking into account family, financial, legal and taxation issues.
If you are ready to make a Will or to alter your current Will, you should consider the services Sandhurst Trustees offers when acting as your executor.
If you decide to appoint Sandhurst Trustees as your executor, the company can ensure:
- strict confidentiality is maintained
- burden of responsibilities is removed from family and friends
- impartiality in the execution of duties
- continuity and economy in management
- protection from fraud
- accessibility and prompt attention
- advice and efficiency.
If you are ready to act in the matter of making a will or altering your current will, you are invited to avail yourself of the services this company has to offer in the capacity of executor. Advice is given without obligation and Sandhurst Trustees Limited will prepare your will for you on the above conditions.