Wills Day to shed light on your final wishes
TOO many seniors don't have a will, have an outdated, incomplete or ambiguous will, or aren't too sure anymore where to find the will they made.
For lawyers at last month's Salvation Army Community Wills Day in Southport, that's a real concern.
Attwood Marshall Wills and Estates/Family Law lawyer Emily Edmunds was one of four representatives from the firm to take part in the day, at which 59 people sought legal help.
Wills, usually from $220, cost just $75 on the day, with funds going to the Salvation Army.
"Most of the people I saw had very outdated wills that were 10 years or older, and many people made provision in their wills for former spouses, or beneficiaries they no longer wanted to provide for," Emily said.
"Without an updated will, an estate can be left to an unwanted beneficiary, which could then force a current partner or your children to contest the will in order to receive provision from your estate."
She said the stress and costs of estate litigation were burdens family members already grieving should not have to cope with, and could be easily avoided with the help of a current lawyer-prepared will.
"Other issues among Seniors included poorly written home-kit wills, which are usually ambiguous or overlook the entire financial situation of a party," Emily said.
"Some people advised that they had wills that were done many years ago but they couldn't remember where the wills were stored."
She warned that if you did pass away and an old will was located and determined to be your last, it could be upheld regardless of how outdated it was.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have supported Salvation Army Wills Days since 2005 as part of their backing for community causes and their belief in making quality legal services accessible.
For the Salvos, Wills Days are also an important awareness message, with as many as 1 in 2 Australians "never getting around" to making a will, potentially leaving their families in distress.
Without a will, surviving family members will not be able to access your bank accounts, deal with council and service providers, Centrelink, Medicare and medical providers, and if you don't have immediate next of kin, your estate could pass to the government.
Of course, the Salvos also hope some people may leave them a bequest, and have joined 100 other charities in the 'live on' message, encouraging us to consider including a charity in our will - something 29 per cent of people consider, but only 7.5 per cent actually do.
Seniors can book a free estate planning review at Attwood Marshall Lawyers by contacting Donna Tolley on 5506 8241 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out about future Wills Days, contact the Salvos on 1800 337 082.