It’s important to have a Will that gives your Executor clear direction about how you want your estate to be distributed, regardless of your level of wealth.
If you die without a Will, an administrator will be appointed to divide your estate according to State or Territory legislation. This may mean your estate is distributed in ways you wouldn’t have chosen. Your estate many also incur unnecessary taxes and expenses.
In addition to distributing your personal assets, a Will allows you to:
- establish a testamentary trust
- donate to charities
- name an Executor
- appoint guardians to look after any dependent children or pets
- allow control of a family discretionary trust to be transferred
- outline your wishes in regards to your funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Once you’ve made a Will, it’s a good idea to review it every few years to ensure it still reflects your wishes in case of changes to your marital status or a birth or death in the family.
The role of the Executor
Your Will should provide for the appointment of an Executor to administer your estate. The Executor is legally and financially responsible for promptly and equitably collecting the assets of your estate, repaying any debts, distributing your assets and finalising your affairs.
Where the estate contains provisions for the establishment of trusts, the Executor usually also acts as Trustee by managing the trust’s assets to ensure that the objectives of the trust are met.
When appointing an Executor, you should appoint someone you can trust to take on the responsibility when required and to administer your estate efficiently.
Acting as the Executor of an estate can be a demanding job that often requires special knowledge and skills. It may also involve making difficult decisions that can cause family conflict. Because of this, you may want to consider appointing an objective third party such as a public or private trustee instead of a family member or friend.
It’s also a good idea to specify an alternative Executor in your Will in case your preferred Executor passes away before you or is not willing or able to look after your estate when the time comes.
What happens to my pension?
It may surprise you to learn that having a Will doesn’t guarantee what happens to your super or pension when you die. This is because your super and pension are non-estate assets, which means they generally fall outside of your estate.
As a non-estate asset, any benefit payable on your death is distributed by the super fund trustee in accordance with any binding death benefit nomination you have made or, if you have nominated a non-binding beneficiary, by taking your nomination into account. If you haven’t made a nomination, the trustee will determine how any death benefit payable is distributed.
You can nominate for your death benefit to be paid to your estate by specifying your Legal personal representative on your death benefit nomination.
Make sure you understand the types of death benefit nominations you can make, and who you can nominate.
Where can I get help?
A Will can be a complex document, so the best way to ensure your wishes are captured and legally valid is to have an estate planning specialist draft a Will for you.
Getting quality financial advice before making a Will can also help ensure your assets pass to your beneficiaries in an efficient and effective manner.
UniSuper Advice can help you understand the big picture when it comes to making a Will. We work with a trusted legal partner who can assist you with setting up your Will and provide legal guidance on the ins and outs of estate planning.
Call UniSuper Advice on 1800 UADVICE (1800 823 842) to find out more.