Victoria Legal Aid

Wills and estates

Information about Wills, how they are made and how they are executed after a person’s death.

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 property (your ‘estate’) after you die. It gives instructions for the person or organisation distributing your property about how this is to happen.

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 property you own at the time of death, including cash, savings and investments.

You can include in your Will:

  • 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 (although the court makes the final decision).

What can’t you leave in a Will?

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

  • property owned as joint tenants – 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 or trust 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

Other support

Find out how you can other support for Wills, estates and powers of attorney.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 28 February 2022

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