Ten million ‘lack the will’

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?

Related articles:
Creating a will without legal help
Take an estate planning self-assessment
Top five estate planning mistakes

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