Expert advice from Adam Lubofsky, CEO of Safewill on writing a Will.
What inspired you to launch Safewill?
The idea for Safewill came about when a friend passed away unexpectedly in their mid-30s without a will, and we saw the significant challenges for those left behind. We realised that very few members of our friendship circle actually had a will in place, despite many of us being financially literate and having mortgages and even kids. We began wondering why it is that will writing is seen as this big and scary task - in addition to the belief that it was going to be an expensive and complicated process, there's a taboo around talking about wills. We wanted to change that attitude by creating a simple, affordable and engaging approach to will-writing for all Australians.
What age should we be writing a will?
Anyone over the age of 18 should have a Will. It is however particularly important when people start to have a family, own their first home, or start to accumulate assets that would be difficult for their loved ones to access if they were to pass away. Most people don't actually consider "what would happen to my bank account or superannuation if I die?". We're seeing people from all ages writing their wills on the Safewill platform, from 18 to 90 years of age, which shows that this is something that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Why should everyone have a will?
People often assume that wills are only for parents or those with large asset holdings, but that's not the case. Wills also give people the opportunity to tell their loved ones any wishes they may have, like who they would want to look after their kids or pets, instructions for their funeral, as well as leaving behind gifts that have sentimental value.
There are financial implications to not having a will as well. If you don't have a valid will in place, you die 'interstate', meaning the law decides how your estate and assets are distributed. This very well might not be in line with your wishes and could entail costly and time-consuming visits to court for loved ones left behind.
How often should you update your Will?
Wills are meant to be living documents, rather than something you write once and never think about again. Ideally, a will should be updated regularly, and we recommend revisiting your will at the very least on an annual basis. Certain life events can invalidate your will, like getting married or divorced, and others may require you leaving new instructions (such as having children). It also helps to review your will to make sure that the people listed as your executor, beneficiary or legal guardian to children are still available and willing to act in their capacities, and helps you keep an up to date list of assets.
Safewill offers an optional annual subscription for $15, which provides several benefits over traditional will-writing methods. These include unlimited free updates to a user's Will document, digital storage of Will data in case the handwritten original copy is lost, as well as Safewill notifying users of changes in law that may affect either their Will or estate.
Why is it important to have an up-to-date Will in place?
Having an up-to-date will that accurately reflects your current circumstances and estate is the only way to be sure that your affairs will be handled according to your wishes, rather than according to the law. This is especially important if you have property or other valuable assets, and even more so if you have dependent children or pets, ensuring that your loved ones are provided for and that they have one less thing to worry about.
What are the responsibilities of an executor?
An executor is responsible for administering all aspects of a person's will, including finding and distributing assets according to will writer's instructions, making funeral arrangements, and handling all of the estate's affairs. This is a critical role in ensuring that a person's estate is handled exactly as they outlined in their Will.
What advice would you give on choosing the right executor to carry out your wishes?
Your executor plays an important role in making sure that your estate is administered according to your wishes. Most people will choose either a close friend or family member, as they're familiar with your wishes and understand how you would want your affairs dealt with. The role of executor can be a time-consuming and difficult job though, so some people choose to nominate a professional trustee such as a lawyer or an accountant to handle this responsibility
How should parents approach the topic of their Will with young, teenage or adult children (please specify each?)
How detailed should your Will be on current assets?
Provided your will is up to date, your will should reflect important current assets like real estate, such as the house you live in. Other financial assets like stock, bonds and mutual funds should also be listed. Finally, wills should also include details on important possessions, guardianship of pets and children.
What top 5 tips do you have on writing a Will?
1. Understand your estate. The first thing to consider is the size of your estate and what you can leave. This will also help when nominating sentimental gifts to beneficiaries.
2. Have an open and honest conversation withthe people included in the will. Hold a family conference if needed, and make sure everyone is on the same page about your wishesMake sure your executor understands your wishes, your beneficiaires know what to expect, and any guardians clearly understand how you want your kids (or pets) cared for after you're gone.
3. Choose your executor wisely: Your executor is the person responsible for ensuring that your will is followed. Make sure they are trusted, able and to willing to person, and clearly understand your wishes in respect of how you want your affairs carried out.
4. Don't forget about buddy: Pets are part of the family too, but can often be neglected when it comes to a person's will. If you have a fur baby, make sure you have appointed a pet guardian (and pet care fund) to ensure they are taken care of properly.
5. Consider digital assets. Many of us have assets stored online, from email and social media accounts, to digital music and photos. Decide which family or friends you would like to have access to these.
For further information please visit, www.safewill.com.au