Making a Will in Australia

The definition of a will is a legal document that sets out what you would like to happen to your assets when you die.

A will also covers several other details, including who will look after your minor children, what your wishes are for your funeral and who would like to name as executor.

Making a will allows you to express exactly how you would like your assets distributed amongst your family and friends, rather than letting the law decide for you.

Making a will in Australia is the only way you can ensure your assets are distributed according to your intentions.

Making a will in Australia is a relatively affordable and straightforward process.

However, it is important to ensure you follow the law so that your will is considered valid and legally binding.

While there are several DIY will kits available in Australia, you should consider talking to a solicitor when making your will to ensure it is valid at the time of your death.

Making a Will in Australia by Yourself

Although DIY will kits are a cheaper option than having a solicitor draw up your will, keep in mind you are writing a legal document that may be deemed invalid if not correctly executed. 

You can write your own will, however keep in mind that this is an important document that is dealing with your life’s work. You will probably want to engage a solicitor who knows how to make a will as they have done it hundreds of times before.

That being said, anyone in Australia who is over the age of 18 years and who is of sound mind can prepare their own will.

How to Write a Will

To create a will, it must be:

  • In writing
  • Signed by the will-maker
  • Witnessed by two people who are not a beneficiary or spouse of the will-maker
  • Testamentary capacity

Information on Making a Will

Once you have done your research and understand your legal responsibilities, you can begin collating the information you will need to write your will.
You will need:
  • A comprehensive list of your assets including property, stocks, bank accounts, super and any other investments
  • The make, model, year, and registration details of any vehicles you own; including motorbikes, cars, caravans, and/or boats
  • Details of all your current bank accounts including account numbers and current statements
  • Details of any shares and investments
  • A list of any personal heirlooms you wish to pass to beneficiaries
  • The current names and addresses of your beneficiaries
  • The details of your funeral (if pre-arranged), or a clear explanation of what you would like for your funeral (i.e. would you like a burial or cremation? Would you prefer it takes place at a church or funeral home?)
  • The name and details of a competent executor (or two)
Having this information with you when you start making your will should make it an easy and stress-free process that ensures your wishes are carried after your death.

Cost to Make a Will

The cost of making a will in NSW varies depending on how complex the document is, whether the will-maker chooses to use a DIY kit or a solicitor and what the individual solicitor charges.

Fees range from as low as $30 for an online DIY will kit to between $300 to $1000 to have your will professionally drafted.

How much you choose to spend on making your will should take into account the size of your estate, the nature of your assets, the number of beneficiaries you wish to name and how strongly you want to try and safeguard against potential contests to your will.

how to write a will
when to make a will | Justice Family Lawyers

Tips When Making a Will

Making a legally binding will is the only way to ensure your estate will be dealt with according to your wishes. Your will should be clear and concise because, at the time of its reading, you will not be around to clarify your intentions.

A will is your chance to provide for your loved ones after your death, state your plans for your funeral and appoint an executor that you know and trust to enact these wishes for you.

  • Firstly, do your research. Look at some sample wills and think about what you might like to include in your own.
  • Decide whether you will use a DIY kit, or if you prefer the guidance of a professional solicitor. If you choose the DIY option, it is a good idea to have a solicitor look it over anyway. There are lots of kits available online and some superannuation and insurance companies now offer them free as part of your policy.
  • Ensure you understand the specific legal requirements for your state. Visit your state’s Public Trustee website to learn what is required in your area to create these legal documents.
  • Make your wishes as clear and specific as possible to avoid any confusion at the time of your death. This is especially the case if there are minor children involved and you want to leave some direction as to what will happen to their care.

When You Should Write a Will

If you are an adult over the age of eighteen, you should seriously consider writing a will if you haven’t already. The following life events are also a good time to re-assess and possibly amend your will:

  • Marriage or re-marriage. Keep in mind that getting married will revoke any pre-existing wills
  • Entering into a serious de facto relationship or moving in with your partner
  • Separation or divorce, which unlike remarrying, do not revoke previously written wills
  • Buying a home, investment property or other significant assets
  • Buying or starting a business