Ten million Australians don’t have a will: study

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Millions of Australians don’t have a will and are in danger of losing control of their estate upon dying, leaving loved ones without a cent, says new research.

A survey of 2011 Australians revealed that more than half (52 per cent) of respondents don’t have a will, either because they haven’t made the time to write one (34 per cent), they believe they don’t have enough assets to warrant one (14 per cent) or because they just don’t want one (four per cent).

Upon dying, these Australians would risk having their assets distributed according to their state’s laws.

“Most people don’t like to think about their death and fewer still enjoy paperwork, but if you die without making a valid will, your assets could be distributed in a way you would not have chosen,” said personal finance expert Kate Browne.

“The data shows one in seven people falsely believe that a will is only necessary if you have a large estate. Even if you don’t have a house or share portfolio, you may have money in super, jointly owned assets or a life insurance benefit that needs to be divided.”

Older Australians are hip to this, with eight in 10 (79 per cent) of baby boomers having a will in place, compared to 20 per cent of gen-Y and just nine per cent of gen-Z.

Queenslanders are most likely to have a will, while Victorians are the least likely.

The study underlines the importance of having a will in place, regardless of how much or how little you have in your estate.

“Better you make a considered decision than have it happen by default and have your family live with the consequences after you’ve passed away,” said Ms Browne. 

While the most watertight way to create a will is with a registered estate planner, solicitor or a public trustee of your state, a will can still be valid in handwritten or typed form, dated and signed by two witnesses who aren’t beneficiaries.

At the very least, some indication of your intentions will relieve the pressure off your loved ones and ensure that your estate is passed to the right people.

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes, so consider it your duty to prepare a will long before you need one – your loved ones will always be better off if you do,” said Ms Browne.

Do you have a will? How old were you when you first created one?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca


Total Comments: 15
  1. 0

    Even when you do a will it can be changed by a court challenge. No matter what a magistrate or judge thinks, what you want to do with what you have earned should not be changed!

    • 0

      Yes and that goes for only leaving a nominal amount to one child and the lions’ share to another even if that was agreed in life. And if you leave one out completely, expect the will to be challenged – and probably overruled.

    • 0

      Even if you leave your estate shared equally among your children, one or more may challenge and the courts will often indulge them with a larger share. Regardless, the lawyers will have feast and the estate will be sadly depleted. It’s a DISGUSTING system and should be thrown out immediately. People should have the right to determine who benefits and in what proportions. The ONLY cases where contests should be allowed are where DEPENDANT children, children with SERIOUS lifelong disability, or a spouse is dealt with very unfairly, left with inadequate resources to sustain a decent lifestyle, or deprived of assets that they contributed to acquiring.

      Currently, the system is a windfall for greedy lawyers and greedy, unconscionable, and generally dishonest claimants.

  2. 0

    My father did a will, but when he died, it was no where to be found, and the people he named executors of the will were not given a copy. I had emails from him of him discussing his funeral arrangements, what the arrangements were, who with and that it was all formally arranged and signed for. In addition to this documented evidence, the funeral home produced the signed paperwork for his funeral arrangements with his signature, but because there was no will that could be found, this allowed my siblings to challenge the funeral arrangements. Even with formal arrangements signed by him, leaving his wishes in no doubt, a court still totally disregarded my fathers wishes, and allowed my siblings to leave him without a funeral so they could abscond with the money money for the funeral instead. If you ask me, this is a sick thing to do. I had to pay for the funeral out of my own pocket because of this greedy deranged behaviour and the courts refusal to respect my father’s obvious signed wishes with the excuse that the will could not be found. My father did not really want me to be out of pocket for his funeral because he had the money to go to it but I had no choice but to pay for it. The point is – Who do you trust to give your will to? If you just leave it in your house when you die this is this disgraceful thing that could happen. Someone can just hide it as a deceitful way of being allowed to do what they want with your estate.

    The public trustee solicitor who my father got his will done with said to me that they do not keep a copy of wills, and even if they did, because of client privacy, they will not hand any copy over to anyone because it is up to the owner of the will to then do what they want with the will after it is drawn up.

    So even if I get a will done, I don’t know who to give it to. Any suggestions???

    • 0

      Your bank should provide a safe deposit box service where you can house all valuable documents securely. Or find a solicitor who will hold your will for you. Or simply give it to the executor you appoint – as presumably that will be someone you trust.

      I would give a copy to every one of my named beneficiaries plus leave one in the bank safe deposit box and one with my solicitor. If all beneficiaries have a copy, it will be hard for one to hide it, especially if you note on it who else was given a copy and on what date.

    • 0

      Get your Will done through a solicitor. Leave the original with the solicitor and get sufficient copies of your Will so that you have a copy for yourself and each of your Executors has a copy and is informed where the original is kept.
      I am very surprised that the Public Trustee in your State does not keep copies of Wills made through them. Are you sure of this? If it was discovered that the Public Trustee had kept copies of a specific Will, a Court could order that it be provided to the Court in determining an outcome.

    • 0

      OnlyGenuineRainey – do NOT give a copy to the beneficiaries! Have seen this happen, and the fights, discourse and animosity it called was a nightmare! They were already lining up the lawyers before my friend had even passed away!
      Let them know where a copy of the will is. If they don’t know what is in it, they will gladly tell someone where it is. Give a copy to your executor, or advise them also where the will is (in a home safe, at the bank)

    • 0

      Cat I am sure that the Public Trustee must keep copies of will. Keep you will in the bank in a deposit box or with a solicitor. Keep a copy at home in a safe place. And to beneficiaries . You should ideally give one to your power of attorney who attends to your finances.

    • 0

      Don’t leave your will with your solicitor as they will expect to administer it and will be very tardy in handing it over if someone else is chosen to administer it. I was even sent a large bill by one solicitor to release a will.

    • 0

      My solicitor made it clear that she would NOT administer my will because if it were challenged she would have a conflict. She needed to remain totally independent. She says no good solicitor would want to administer a will they had anything to do with drawing up. She drew my mother’s will and she was amazing when Mum died. Refused to act for the executor and offered suggestions of others who might do a good job, but also gave heaps of advice free of charge. She never even hinted at charging for release – not even the cost of mailing it by certified mail or making copies for various parties. She said she spent an hour on the phone to one heir (who contested the will) and suffered abusive phone calls while she was out shopping and spending time with family – which was very upsetting and embarrassing, but no hint of a fee regardless.

      OG, the picture you paint always suggests everyone else in the world is dishonest and unconscionable and incompetent, but you are perfect. That’s a sick view to take. You are one very sick puppy!

    • 0

      Thank you everyone for your replies and advice which I am finding very useful, particularly as I am only going to have one beneficiary. I did not get the email alerts even though it was switched on so didn’t know until now.

  3. 0

    My mother had a will drawn by a competent solicitor. Used another solicitor to make an Affidavit to back it up, explaining her wishes and reasons. It was 100% fair and right. Courts overturned it. Cost 1/3rd of the estate to try to defend it and in the end I gave up. I lost half my proper inheritance and a selfish fraudster got a few thousand more than my mother wanted to leave – but not really much because the challenge cost so much. Appalling and disgraceful!

    • 0

      Yes, appalling is the right word. Unless it can be established that unfair practice or influence was used to obtain a benefit in a Will or the person making the Will was not of sound mind at the time they made that Will, the Courts should not interfere with the stated intention of that Will. I am surprised to hear of the Courts’ decisions stated in these posts.

  4. 0

    Generally all beneficiaries get an equal amount of money depending on how much money there is That includes when a house is sol Unfortunately the Public Trustee or a solicitor take a hefty cut so less complications the better. Will must always be updated including when you divorce or remarry or when the partner goes before you.

  5. 0

    Get a will done that s good cost me $400 about a year ago BUT make sure you also have BINDING BENEFICIAY NOMINATION done regarding your super so the trustee knows who to pay your money too they are not the same I thought the will covered it but I was wrong so I would check up



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