- Write your own Will. Use one of those cheap kits from the post office. The cheaper the better – why waste money on expensive stationery?
- Even better, download something from the interweb, preferably from another country. Try to get something that doesn’t have any creation date on it –it won’t be hard – that way you can be pretty sure that your Will won’t comply with local laws here and now.
- Don’t pay for professional legal advice. Just do it yourself. Type up (or better yet handwrite in a shaky hand) your own Will. Just in case, write up several Wills all on the same day – each slightly different.
- Make your gift to your daughter conditional upon her divorcing her loser husband. Put your son’s legacy in trust for 50 years, unless he completes 6 years in the army. Tell your wife that she can only keep the house as long as she never even thinks about another man AND never again speaks to her interfering busy-body mother.
- When writing your Will, talk about the assets in incredible detail – down to the serial number on your television. Then forget to keep track of those assets throughout your lifetime. Sell some, give some away, and junk some. It will be good for a laugh as you look up from Purgatory at your family trying to work out which assets are actually part of your estate, and who is to get what.
- Also, don’t bother trying to distinguish between your own assets outright, compared with assets that you might own jointly with someone else, or assets that are owned in a trust or company. Just treat them all the same.
- Try not to talk about your testamentary wishes with your family. After all they won’t get anything until after you’re dead, so they can jolly well wait until then.
- Be as secretive as possible with your own family, especially about your financial affairs. Don’t talk about what you are planning to do. Passively encourage your spouse and kids to assume they know what you want. Leave it vague enough so no one really knows.
Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1965. As a segment of Australian society we represent a BIG chunk of our national population, and account for a massive percentage of the nation’s private net-worth.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics people aged 65 years and over made up 13% of Australia’s population at 30 June 2007. This proportion is projected to increase to 25% in 2056 and to 28% in 2101.
As we prepare to transition into retirement & beyond, we are about to witness the greatest transfer of wealth ever in Australia’s history.
However 2010 Australian research commissioned by the Salvation Army from Roy Morgan Research reveals that nearly two thirds of the adult Australian population does not have a Will. The research also shows 40% of Australians aged 25+ have experienced or know someone who has experienced family conflict as a result of a family member not leaving a Will.
Dying without any Will is called intestacy. When that happens, the government of the State where you die will determine what will happen to your assets. This can lead to unintended people (or even the government) gaining ownership of your hard-earned assets.
Many Australians have no idea what happens to their assets after they die, and sadly many rely on the misguided notion that a Do it Yourself Will is sufficient to protect their family and assets.
Estate planning following remarriage after being widowed or divorced is complicated by a number of factors, including differences in asset-ownership between the parties, one or both of them having children by an earlier relationship requiring provision/protection, disparity in ages, and concerns about the financial effects of a relationship breakdown (once bitten, twice shy).
Joint ownership of assets, and Family Law considerations of “Community Property” can give a surviving spouse certain property rights which can cause problems for the children from prior marriages.
Do you have strong feelings about what should happen at the end of your life?
You are not alone.
Around Australia in the last 15 years there have been several legislative attempts to create a framework for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, and there have recently been Bills before the parliaments in both South Australia and Western Australia upon this issue.
In 1995, the Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world to pass right to die legislation. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act lasted 9 months before being overturned by the Australian Federal Parliament. At present, voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in all states and territories of Australia; however the pressure is growing for change.
There are already places in Europe and in the USA where the laws permit degrees of voluntary euthanasia.
Of course this is a sensitive and controversial topic, provoking extreme reactions among people. It touches upon some of the same issues as Capital Punishment and Abortion.
For some, the sanctity of human life is paramount, and for them religious beliefs prevent any suggestion of termination of life. This group might be called the “Right to Life” group.
If you die without a Will, you are deemed to have died “intestate” and your estate will have to be administered at Court in accordance with an inflexible statutory formula which will determine where your estate will go. This can result in unintended results for some people, perhaps contrary to what they would have wanted.
Many people believe that if they are married and they die without a Will, all their property will automatically go to their surviving spouse. That is frequently NOT the case in Australia.
If you are married, all jointly-owned property will pass by right of survivorship to your spouse. Matrimonial property (essentially property acquired during the marriage) will also generally go to your spouse.
However, if you also have one or more children, state law will provide a formula which will direct the share of the separate property (property acquired before marriage or inherited during the marriage) which will go to each of them. This can be an unintended result if the estate is modest and your surviving spouse needs all the estate-assets to make ends meet.
In June 2010 the Supreme Court of South Australia Court effectively granted an elderly woman’s wish to die.
The woman was in her 70s and confined to a wheelchair. She instructed her nursing home to stop giving her food and drink and the drug insulin, knowing she would die.
She clearly asserted her right to refuse to take food and medication. The Court case was instigated by the Nursing Home in which she resided, because of concerns that her carers might face prosecution for assisting in a suicide or committing other crimes if it complied with her desires.
The judgment is a first in South Australia and reflects a similar ruling in Western Australia in 2009, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, held that Christian Rossiter be allowed to withdraw nutrition & medication, even though the undoubted consequence of this would lead to his death.
Rossiter had become a quadriplegic after a road accident, and retained full ability to understand his condition and to make reasoned choices on his own behalf. His fully functioning mind was trapped within a body which was unable to undertake any basic human functions’. Nutrition was provided to him through a tube inserted directly into his stomach.