Demystifying wills – our trustees share their top five tips for creating a will

By Public Trust 

Creating a will can often seem like a complicated task or a daunting piece of life admin. However, knowing what to consider and do when creating a will is half the job. What should you include and prioritize? 

1. Consider your likely future financial position before creating gifts of money. 
The assets you have today may be more than what you will have when you pass away. This is something to keep in mind when creating gifts of money in your will. We recommend making monetary gifts a percentage of your remaining assets rather than a set sum. 

2. Wills are not just about what you leave to people – a will can also identify the person you want to look after your children. Have these conversations beforehand. 
If you have children, it’s so important to think about whom you would want to appoint as a “testamentary guardian” in your will. It helps to set up time to have this conversation with your friends and family before making your will. You want to be totally confident that they would be happy to take on this responsibility if they were ever appointed guardian by the Family Court. 

3. As your life changes, your will might need to change too. 
If your life has changed since you last made your will – for example, if you’ve had a new child or had a relationship end – don’t wait too long before getting your will updated. Too many times we see family members miss out or wishes left unfulfilled because the latest will doesn’t reflect the current situation. If you pass away without a valid will in place, that’s called dying intestate. Essentially, your estate is divided according to the local law, so it may not be divided up as you would like or as you intended it to. 

4. Share any specific funeral instructions with loved ones in addition to noting them in your will. 
The funeral instructions section of a will is very much just a wish and is not a legally binding instruction,  so it may only get seen after a funeral has taken place. That’s why it’s important to let the person who is most likely to arrange your funeral know about your wishes as well.