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Expat Wills

Why you need to make a Will

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It’s the morbid conversation no one wants to have, the plan no one wants to make.

Wills force us to think about who gets what when we leave this earth, yet half of all Australians haven’t got one. Despite owning property, being married and having kids, 30-somethings are among the most reluctant.

Hadley Allchurch, 36, says preparing a will is at the end of a long to-do list.

‘‘What I’ve always thought is, if I die naturally everything will go to my next-of-kin and that’s my wife,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s not something I need to worry about just yet. At my age it would make me feel very old.’’

Preparing a will isn’t at the top of the priority list for Aussies in their twenties who feel invincible or have a perceived lack of assets. But what excuse do those in their 30s have?

Allchurch, a commercial partner at a Sydney media agency, says he gave more thought to organising a will after his two-year-old daughter was born.

‘‘When you start to have children you think a lot more seriously about things,’’ he said.

‘‘My daughter has godparents so if anything were to happen to us, they would pick up the responsibility. There’s nothing in writing, but it’s been discussed. I’m also a godparent to a couple of kids and that’s the arrangement I have with their families.’’

Research by State Trustees shows milestone events are the main triggers for will preparation. The birth of a child or grandchild was the number one reason 27 per cent of people aged under 50 organised their will, while 23 per cent did so after purchasing a property or asset.

Many decided to get their affairs in order upon the advice of others. Recommendations from family or friends pushed 18 per cent to get a will and a further 14 per cent said they heeded the advice of a professional.

State Trustee chief executive Craig Dent says making end of life plans simply doesn’t rate high on the agenda for a lot of people.

‘‘There’s so many people who haven’t gotten around to it because they’re time-poor,’’ he says.

‘‘Their kids have busier social lives than they do and they spend a lot of time running after their kids.’’ State Trustee data shows 50 per cent of 750 Australians surveyed don’t have a will. ‘‘Haven’t got around to it’’ was the simple reason cited by 48 per cent of those aged under 50 and 55 per cent of those aged 50 and older.

Dent says the squeamish factor is also to blame for a general unwillingness to organise one’s final wishes.

‘‘People inherently don’t like to plan for or think about their deaths, but it’s incredibly important,’’ he says.

‘‘Part of the advocacy work we do is planning for the future and that has to include planning for passing.’’

Allchurch agrees on the difficulty of contemplating plans after death, but says he plans to organise a will in the future.

‘‘It’s certainly morbid and not a pleasant thing to think about your own demise,’’ he says.

‘‘But I’m likely to make a will in the future. My wife, who has a will and is much more organised than me, has nagged me about it a little bit.’’

Twenty-three per cent of Australians under-50 said they didn’t think they needed a will and a further 12 per cent believed they were too young to need one.

For 36-year-old psychologist Jocelyn Brewer, not having a will comes down to a combination of reasons.

‘‘It’s one of those grown-up things you should do when you have a property and theoretically have some wealth,’’ she says.

‘‘But I don’t care – isn’t that selfish? I just don’t worry about those things.

‘‘If I die or if something happens to me in the next little while, I know my family would take care of it.’’

Brewer says she thinks about organising her will around tax time, but is ultimately put off by the cost.

‘‘A friend told me it cost her $800 and it’s just a bit too expensive right now because I’ve gone down to four days a week while I try to build my own business,’’ she says.

‘‘If it was $200-$300, I’d do it.’’

Allocating assets and dividing wealth may be the sole focus of making a will, but wills also designate guardians of children, specify preferred funeral arrangements and nominate who takes possession of sentimental items. Even the family pet can be included.

For some, divvying up much-loved personal items can be a more pressing matter than carving up the estate.

‘‘It would be more about sentimental things for me,’’ Brewer says. ‘‘I have a journal that I’ve kept since I was 10 years old that is priceless to me. And I’d want my friend who is a fashion designer to have all my shoes and clothes.’’

Wills and estate specialists are also increasingly reminding clients to include their digital assets in their paperwork. Virtual possessions such as email and social media accounts are often overlooked in wills.

Though making a will is often pushed into the ‘‘too hard basket’’, Dent says the main purpose of a will is to make life easier for those still living.

‘‘Whilst you’ve gone and are no longer aware of what’s going on, making a will avoids conflict after the event and avoids a lot of grief for people who are already grieving,’’ Dent says.

Publish date: 11/09/14 9:51
Source: by Kate Jones, The Sydney Morning Herald, Published : 7 August 2014

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