A will is a legally binding document that details how you want your assets and belongings to be distributed after you die.
You don’t have to make a will since the law provides guidelines for distributing the assets of people who die without a will, but it is highly recommended that you do to give yourself the peace of mind that comes with control over ones own life especially if you are married, in a de facto relationship, have dependents or have significant assets.
While you are entitled to draft your own will, you may prefer to ask a solicitor to do it especially if your affairs are complex or if you have specific matters to be addressed. Shared assets, broken marriages and blended families can all complicate thingsand a will can be declared invalid for any number of reasons.
A solicitor will enable you to ensure everything is in order as well as act as the will executor, help you appoint a power of attorney and even store the will in a safe place.
Another option is to use the Public Trustee in your state. This is the government body responsible for making wills, managing deceased estates and overseeing powers of attorney.
Most Public Trustees will help you draw up a will for a nominal fee, store and execute the will, and then claim a small percentage of the estate in the end. Search online for “public trustee” in your state or go to the local phone book.
If you decide to draft a will on your own make sure the document is clearly marked and dated as the latest version of your “last will and testament”.
Will kits which provide a template, are available in various forms and price ranges. You can usually pick up a basic and reliable kit from a post office or newsagency.
If you are concerned about making a will a social worker may help. Ask your health care team about how to find such support.
The Cancer Council publishes a free booklet called You Never Know Who it Might Help: Your Guide to Wills and Bequests. Phone the Helpline on 13 11 20.
Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.Last updated 30 August 2015