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