If Hollywood movies have taught me anything, it’s that Wills are a quirky plot device to be used by writers of romance and comedy movies to set up their stories and lead to a happy, yet expected ending.
Okay, so Wills are a necessity for more than just kooky rich relatives.
Having a Will means that your assets are distributed in a way that makes sense to you, taking into account dependents, friends and even causes that you care about.
But what about if you have very few assets to your name and no dependents to speak of?
Do you really need a Will if you are young, single and broke?
A little while ago I stood firmly in the ‘no’ camp. Although my possessions mean a lot to me, I really doubt my family is going to fight over my scooter and laptop once I’m gone. And I’ve got (comparatively) very little in the way of investments and liquid assets. Sure, I’ve got a bit of life insurance through super, but other than that I’ve very little to my name.
I figured that if I were to leave this party early, my family could just sort out what happened to everything pretty amicably.
So like I said, writing a will wasn’t even on my radar.
And then I talked to my Mum. I’ll tell you what, having a lawyer in the family is both a blessing and a curse. After telling her that I didn’t have a Will yet, I got a ten-minute lecture on how important it is to have one even if you are broke and young.
[Sidenote: How old is too old to still be getting lectured by your parents?]
Anyway, my Mum did bring up some valid points so here’s a few reasons why you should consider writing a Will.
1. You have a significant Significant Other
My boyfriend and I took the step of moving in together earlier this year. We haven’t combined our finances or set up a joint bank account or anything yet. But obviously our relationship is getting more serious and we’re starting to talk more about our future life together.
As my Mum pointed out to me, if one of us were to die now, the other person would sort of be in limbo financially. Sure, it would suck to lose my boyfriend. But it would also be really horrible to have to pay for our joint expenses on my own, have to move out of the house, and even try to figure out what happens to furniture and other stuff we’ve brought into the relationship.
So as your relationship progresses and more of your life and finances become entwined, it’s important to work out what should happen if one of you were to die. For example, will you leave each other money to set up at a new place or cover joint expenses?
2. You have a close relationship with non-dependents
If you die without a Will, you are considered to have died intestate, and your assets will be distributed according to a standard set out by the Trustee in your state.
If you’re single, your assets will generally be given to your parents or siblings. But that may not be what you want to happen.
I’ve got a (gorgeous) niece and nephew and I’d like to leave them something to help out with their education or buy a house down the track.
Without a Will, I’d have to depend on my family to just know this is what I want. But if it’s included in a Will then I know they’ll get the money and it will be used in the way I want.
3. You want to leave money to charity
If you’ve got a cause close to your heart, you might want to leave some money to a charity that supports it. You can include charitable bequests in your Will so you know that your money will go towards a cause that you care deeply about.
You can also include in your Will certain things that you want to have happen at your funeral or wake (like no playing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’).
How to Write a Will
Writing a Will isn’t all that hard. The hardest thing is gathering together details of all your assets and expenses and then working out where you want it to go.
You can buy a Will Kit from your state trustee and this will take you through all the requirements. It’s important that your Will is witnessed by two people who aren’t beneficiaries.
Although my Mum pointed out that if you want to make sure that everything is done right, it’s probably better to get a lawyer to draw it up for you. This obviously isn’t the cheapest option.
After You’ve Got a Will
You’ll need to review it regularly. Things change. Maybe you get married, buy a house, have children or buy or sell assets.
Review your will each time you have a big life change (plus maybe annually too), to make sure that it still reflects your situation. In fact, a Will is automatically revoked if you get married so you’ll definitely want to review it if that happens.
Sure, thinking about what will happen once you die isn’t the funnest thing. But it is important. And once it’s done, that’ll be one less thing your Mum can nag you about.
Right, I’m off to figure out what I want in my Will. In the meantime, tell us if you have a Will yet? What made you decide to write one?
Photo credit: Flickr/keremtapani