After you sign your last Will and testament....what's next?
Do not staple or clip anything to your signed original Will.
If staple or clip marks are visible, the court will need to be satisfied that your original Will did not have a Codicil attached that has been removed, which will add a considerable cost to your estate and delay for Probate to granted by the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court.
Destroy or revoke any previous Will.
It is also important that you destroy any previous Will you may have to ensure that your executor does not seek a grant of probate with the wrong Will. Alternatively, you can note the revocation of a previous Will by writing on the previous Will something to effect of ‘Replaced by Will dated <insert date>’.
Inform your beneficiaries and executor(s)
It can be sensible to inform your beneficiaries (who are of an appropriate age) and your nominated executor(s) about your new Will. It is also preferable to have asked the people you are nominating to be your executors if it is a responsibility they are willing to accept. Make sure to encourage your executors and beneficiaries to seek professional legal and tax advice before receiving their inheritance.
Complete your asset record
Creating a detailed list of your assets and keeping this list with papers will assist your executor in understanding what assets you own (such as a home, investment property, car and cash) and assets you control (such as your super, trusts, shares and life insurance).
It will also help your executor know where physical assets are located. You should remember to update your asset diary as you acquire or sell assets during your lifetime.
Complete your heirlooms and chattels record
If there are specific chattels (family heirlooms, furniture, jewellery etc.) that you would like your executor to gift to specific beneficiaries, it is sensible to record the item, its location and the name of the beneficiary to receive the item. This is particularly important if you know that certain family members or friends are especially fond of an item or have been promised the item during your lifetime. Not recording these chattel gifts can cause unnecessary conflict.
Enduring Powers of Attorney & Powers of Enduring Guardianship
Each State in Australia deals with Enduring Powers of Attorney and Powers of Enduring Guardianship slightly differently and indeed have different names for these powers in some instances. Having these documents in place is a crucial step to ensure that the right person or people chosen by you have the legal authority to make important decisions on your behalf if you are overseas or if you are ever left incapacitated and therefore are unable to make decisions relating to your finances and general welfare. RetireLaw provides Enduring Power Of Attorney and Powers of Enduring Guardianship to every client as a matter of course.
Store your Wills safely!
It is important that you store your signed original Will safely where it will not be exposed to damp or the threat of fire. Make sure that at least one person you trust (i.e. your executor) knows where your signed original Will is kept. For couples, make sure that at least one person outside of your spouse or partner also knows where your signed original Wills are kept.