As women, it’s crucial that we take control of our estate planning and write a Will, regardless of our age. A Will allows us to decide how we want our assets to be distributed and ensure that our family members are taken care of in the event of our passing.
Think you don’t have enough assets or that your estate is straightforward? Think again.
If we don’t have a Will, state-based laws will determine how our assets will be distributed, which may not result in the outcomes we would want, particularly if we are part of a blended family or estranged from our family members. In case of separation prior to divorce, without a Will, most or all of our estate will automatically go to our ex-partner, regardless of our children’s or family’s needs. Moreover, not having a Will can cause enormous complexity for our loved ones in the event of our death.
Women tend to live longer than men and as such joint assets will often fall to us before being passed down to our children or other family members. As a result, our estate is more likely to be subject to Probate, a formal process where the Court signs off on the validity of a Will. Without a Will, Probate is significantly more complicated, as next of kin have to provide extensive evidence about the family tree before being able to access assets.
Main challenges and barriers women face when writing wills
Writing a Will can be challenging, as we are often faced with time and cost pressures. Traditionally, writing a Will required you to have the time to carefully consider what you would want to happen to your estate, make a list of your assets and other wishes, make an appointment with a solicitor, visit that solicitor to have a conference, and then go back to the solicitor to sign the Will when it’s ready.
It’s no secret women juggle more variety in their day. In fact, while women participate in almost equal percentages to men in the labour force, almost 65% of their working week is devoted to unpaid care work, in contrast to men who devote around 36%. Moreover, women are earning and saving less than men, which makes it difficult to justify spending money on estate planning.
Will writing doesn’t need to be too complicated or time consuming, especially if your affairs are relatively simple! We just need to consider the things we own in our name, including our super and life insurance policy. We should also think about who we would like to receive the majority of our assets and in what proportions, and who should take care of our children in the event both parents are not able to.
Have a think about the things you own in your sole name, including your super and life insurance policy. Who would you like to receive the majority of your assets and in what proportions?
A misconception with Will writing is that you have to list all your assets out and attribute a person’s name to each one. In reality, when writing a Will, your estate is considered as a “whole” and the Will normally provides instructions as to who should inherit in what percentages. The Will also sets out names of backup beneficiaries in the event your main beneficiaries die before you.
The exception to this is if you want to carve out any specific or sentimental gifts, for example if you’d like to leave a piece of jewellery to a sibling, or an artwork to a friend, you would list this separately.
It is also important to consider who should take care of your children in the event both parents are not able to. Have a chat to the person you would like to appoint as executor of your Will, or guardian of any children, to make sure they are able to take on the role.
If you have your wishes in mind to cover the above, you are ready to write your Will, and you can do this either using a paper Will kit, an online Will platform, or a solicitor.
My final tip is in relation to superannuation. It is important to understand that it doesn’t “automatically” form part of your Will. If you would like your superannuation to come into your Will, you need to sign a death benefit nomination form which is provided by your superfund. However, you should also consider whether you would like your superannuation or life insurance to be given directly to your spouse, or children, as this can often result in a better tax outcome. Advice from an accountant would be important here!
Isabelle Marcarian is the Principal Solicitor at Safewill Legal, the affiliate law firm of Safewill, Australia’s highest rated will-writing platform
Safewill: A popular will-writing service among young female users
Safewill is a digital will writing and estate planning platform that provides people with an affordable and accessible way to write a Will online. A Will with Safewill costs only $160.
Using the platform, people can create an account, and are guided through 7 simple modules which take instructions for executorship of the Will, guardianship of children, the distribution of assets, specific gifts and any funeral wishes. The whole process takes around 10-20 minutes to complete, and the Will is then submitted for review by lawyers, to make sure the process has been completed correctly. There is also the option for tailored legal advice if someone would like more support, or if they have complex circumstances.
How to start your will writing journey
You can easily and affordably choose to start, change or update your Will through the Safewill platform by visiting https://safewill.com/. Here your Will can be updated anywhere at any time, and upon completion is reviewed by the Safewill Legal team for completeness, so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your physical or mental health, seek immediate medical attention.