Making a will

Making a will is important. It makes sure your money and assets go to the people you want when you die. 

Why make a will

Woman sitting with childWhen you make a will you choose who will get your assets and money when you die. You can make sure your family (or friends) are taken care of and leave them something that reminds them of you.

If you don't have a will, the Public Trustee in your state or territory will decide how to give out your assets, based on the laws in your state or territory for people who die intestate. This could be more expensive and take a long time, and your assets might not go where you want them to. 

It can be useful to make a will so it's clear how your assets should be distributed, especially since traditional Indigenous ties of kinship may not be recognised under intestacy laws.

Writing your will

Making a will can be easy and it doesn't have to be expensive. You can pick up a Do It Yourself will kit from your local post office.

Smart tip

If you make a will using a will kit, try to get the will checked by a lawyer to make sure it is valid. If a will is not prepared correctly, it can delay its distribution and end up being an expense to your estate.

When you write your will, think about who you want to leave your money or assets to. It can be one person or a number of people. This person or people are known as your 'beneficiaries'. If there is more than one beneficiary, think about what assets or sum of money you want each person to receive.

Next, decide who you want as your executor. An executor is the person who is in charge of making sure your money and assets are given to your beneficiaries in the way you want. The executor will have a lot of responsibility, so speak to the person before you appoint them and make sure they understand what they will have to do.

When you finish writing your will you need to sign and date it and get two people over 18 who aren't your beneficiaries to also sign it.

Keep your will somewhere safe

Keep your will in a safe place and make sure you tell your family where it is. You should also revise your will when your life changes; for example, if you marry, if you have children or grandchildren, or if your partner dies. These events might change how you want to give out your money or assets.

Superannuation and your will

If you die, your super fund normally pays your superannuation death benefit to one or more of your dependants, such as your husband or wife or partner, your children and people who depend on you financially. For more information see superannuation.

Getting help

Couple getting financial adviceFor more information about wills, download:

You can also contact your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Legal Service:

If you're an artist, the Arts Law Centre of Australia has sample wills specifically for Indigenous artists.

You can also contact the Public Trustee in your state or territory. The Public Trustee can help you make your will. The cost of this service is paid out of your estate when you die:Family having a picnic

Help look after your family after you die by making a will.

Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 25 Jan 2018