Wills and estates

Wills and estates

Learn more about:

  • how to make a valid Will
  • how to change a Will
  • what happens if someone dies without a valid Will
  • who can challenge a Will and under what circumstances
  • how to distribute a person’s estate after they die.

What is a Will?

A Will is a written document that sets out what you want to happen to your possessions (your ‘estate’) after you die.

A Will must be properly executed to be valid. For more information, see Making a valid Will.

Who can make a Will?

A Will can be made by anyone aged over 18, as long as they have the mental capacity to understand what they are doing.

A person under 18 can only make a Will if they:

  • are married
  • get a court order to authorise making a Will.

What can you leave in a Will?

Your estate includes any goods you own at the time of death, including cash, savings and investments.

Your Will can include:

  • assets, such as houses, cars, money, shares, cash
  • rights and powers, such as the right to appoint the trustee of a family trust
  • specific belongings such as jewellery, books, photos – if you list specific items make sure they are easily identified.

You can also include other matters, such as:

  • how you would like your remains to be dealt with
  • organ donation
  • who you would like to act as guardians of your children.

What can’t you leave in a Will?

Some assets do not pass from the deceased to another person through a Will. Examples include:

  • jointly-owned property – called 'passing by survivorship'
  • assets from your superannuation or insurance fund – you usually nominate a beneficiary when you take out the policy
  • assets that are held in family companies or trusts – although under your control, you do not actually own these assets so they are not directly distributed according to a Will. The Will must pass the control of the company to trustees or to some other beneficiary.

More information

Making a valid Will

Changing a Will

If someone dies without a Will

Challenging a Will

Administration of the estate

Get help

Find out how you can get help with Wills and estates.