One in three people have no will
ONE in three Queenslanders aged over 25 do not have a valid will, and Bundaberg solicitor Glen Krebs has seen first hand the problems it can cause.
“If you die without a will, there is Queensland government legislation to determine how your estate is divided — you have no control over it, and it may not go to the people you would have chosen,” Payne Butler and Lang partner Mr Krebs said.
According to Roy Morgan research commissioned by the Salvation Army, 10.9% of Australians aged 25-plus said they were just too busy to make a will and would get to it some time.
But Mr Krebs said it was not necessarily difficult to arrange a legal document outlining where your assets should go after death.
“There’s no excuse — for about $30 you can buy a form from the Post Office,” he said.
“If someone dies interstate, it can cost up to $10,000 or $20,000 in legal fees if there is a dispute over their estate.”
The Salvation Army’s statistics show that only 6.2% of Australians include a charity in their will, but Mr Krebs said it was quite common for people to leave a legacy to their favourite good cause.
However, that can cause problems of a different nature if the document is not drafted perfectly.
“I’ve had one case where a legacy was left to an organisation that didn’t exist,” Mr Krebs said.
“Charities do rely heavily on donations and bequests so it is important to have it listed correctly in your will.”
Charltons Lawyers partner Chris Parker said young people often believed they did not have an estate so did not need a will.
“But most super funds have a death benefit, which needs to be considered,” Mr Parker said.
He said the two most important documents to have organised were an enduring power of attorney and a will.
“An enduring power of attorney is just as important because it guarantees who will look after your personal affairs, and your health and finance affairs,” Mr Parker said.
He said it was also vital to re-read the documents every two years, in case they needed to be reviewed.
“Events like marriages, divorces and births can significantly change your will and rule out large portions of it,” he said.
“People seem to think it will cost them $1000 or more to create a will, but most straight forward wills are no more than a couple of hundred dollars, and it can be packaged with a power of attorney — it’s a small price to pay for security.”