Life Insurance

Writing your will

20 May 2021

Life can often throw you curve balls but thankfully there are things you can do to help give you control and a bit of certainty around your future. Writing a will is one of those things; it’s an opportunity to think about how you want to best look after your loved ones when you’re no longer here. After all, if you’ve worked hard to build your wealth, you want to be sure that you pass it on to the people you care about the most.

A will is a legally binding document that gives you the comfort of knowing you’ve done just that – and you can also include instructions for guardianship in your will for anyone under your care, such as young children.

What happens if I die and don’t leave a will?

If you were to pass away without leaving a will it’s referred to as ‘dying intestate’ and it means, quite simply, that the rules of intestacy will decide what happens to your estate. The rules differ around Australia –NSW, VIC, QLD, NT, ACT, SA and TAS, but in most cases they will go to your next of kin, which may be your partner, children or parents.

If you die intestate your individual wishes won’t be taken into consideration even if you told a close relative or friend what you wanted. And there are other downsides. For example, the process isn’t automatic which means your loved ones would need to complete paperwork, such as applying for a letter of administration, before they can access the assets of your estate, such as money in a bank account. It may not be something you’ve been putting off however it’s important as writing a will while you’re healthy and mentally capable can minimise putting the people you love through unnecessary anguish and uncertainty.

Also, if you don’t have any relatives, your assets could end up in the hands of the state, so you want to avoid that happening.

How old do I have to be to write a will?

You have to be over 18 to write a will and while you may think writing one isn’t necessary when you have no assets or dependants, however your possessions, such as photographs and much-loved objects, can still mean a lot to your loved ones. Making decisions about who will receive them may prevent unnecessary arguments during a difficult time.

It’s also worth doing as soon as you can because many people over 18 in Australia have some superannuation and perhaps a life insurance policy as part of it.

Life insurance can provide welcome relief to loved ones when you die, helping them to manage financially. The money can be used to pay funeral expenses and debts such as a mortgage or personal loans. It may also act as replacement income so any dependents you leave behind can continue to pay daily expenses.

Keep in mind, though, that if your life insurance policy is part of your superannuation, it won’t automatically be part of your estate. You’ll need to communicate in writing to your superannuation fund any beneficiaries.

What should I put in my will?

You can choose what you would like to include in your will – books, musical instruments, your photo collection – however it’s important to keep these things in mind when planning a will:

  1. Write out a list of your assets and/or possessions and who you want to inherit what.
  2. Make sure you name an executor of your will as they will take care of your estate and distribute your assets. If you don’t name an executor, your next of kin will have to apply for probate before they can distribute your estate.
  3. Make sure you name an executor of your will as they will take care of your estate and distribute your assets. If you don’t name an executor, your next of kin will have to apply for probate before they can distribute your estate.
  4. List details of what arrangements you would like for your funeral.
  5. If you have pets or children under 18, include how you’d like them to be looked after.
  6. If you’re a primary carer, leave details of how they’ll be cared for in your absence

Where can I get help to write my will?

You can use a DIY will kit to write your own will but because it’s a legal document it may be a good idea to get the help of a solicitor or the public trustee in your state – NSW, VIC, QLD, NT, ACT, SA and TAS – who knows the law surrounding how to write a will in Australia. They may provide important information that you haven’t thought about.

If you do go ahead and write it yourself, it’s worth getting it checked by a solicitor or public trustee because if it’s not done properly it may be deemed invalid, in which case the rules of intestacy may come into play.

Before you start, check the rules that apply to writing wills that are specific to your state or territory – NSW, VIC, QLD, NT, ACT, SA and TAS – because they do vary.

What happens after I’ve written my will?

To ensure your will is legally binding it must be in writing and signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign it. The witnesses cannot be an heir or spouse, and they have to be 18 years or older and of sound mind.

Once that is done, put it away in a safe place and let those closest to you know where it is. And remember to keep updating it as your circumstances change. Your will should always reflect your current situation so it’s vital to go over it when any life-changing events take place, such as moving in with your partner, getting married, having kids or taking on the care of a sick parent.

Peace of mind for your future

Writing a will is an investment into your family’s future. It’s the chance to be clear about what you want after you leave, helping to ease any stress and anxiety your loved ones may experience once you’re gone. It will also help save money on legal fees and administrative hassles.

While you’re planning your will, it would also be a good time to learn more about Life and Funeral Insurance products, which can also help to ease end-of-life stress. Similar to your will, your life insurance policy should be reviewed intermittently and reflect changes in income, liabilities and debts as its main purpose is to help your loved ones live the life you’ve planned for them even when you’ve gone. Our products suit a range of needs, lifestyles and budgets to help.

Get a Life Insurance online quote within minutes, or use our Life Insurance Calculator to help calculate the right amount of cover for you and your family.

Read more: To come

Suncorp Life Insurance products, other than in some circumstances the Redundancy Benefit, are issued by TAL Life Limited ABN 70 050 109 450 AFSL 237848 (TAL Life) which is part of the TAL Dai-ichi Life Australia Pty Limited ABN 97 150 070 483 group of companies (TAL). TAL companies are not part of the Suncorp Group. TAL Life uses the Suncorp brand under licence from the Suncorp Group. Redundancy Benefit provided on or before 31st March 2020 was issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) which is part of the Suncorp Group. New Redundancy Benefit policies and renewals offered from 1st April 2020 are issued by TAL Life. The different entities of TAL and the Suncorp Group of companies are not responsible for, or liable in respect of, products and services provided by the other.

This information is general advice only and does not take into account your individual needs, objectives or financial situation, so before acting on it you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Before you decide to buy or to continue to hold an insurance product, please read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). The PDS contains important information which will help you understand the product, including what's covered and what's not covered. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product is also available.

Handy Tools

Life Insurance Calculator

Related Links and Products

Life Insurance