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Why and When to Handle a Will in Australia

Writing a will is often viewed as too morbid of a conversation by many people. Here in Australia, we have a wonderful lifestyle and we choose to focus on that rather than anything remotely involving death. However, when looked at both practically and positively, a will is something that people should start thinking about at an earlier age.

Writing a will can mean allocating assets for an inevitable demise, the glass-half-empty version. In comparison, the writing of a will can symbolize the dispersal of resources to loved ones when they are not needed anymore. Assigning assets can be a tough task to sit down and execute, but if looked at from a glass-half-full perspective, can positively benefit those close to you. Below I have listed the times in life when it might be worth composing a will to better prepare for the future.

-18th Birthday.
In our country, birthdays are a big deal. At 18 years young, Australians have the right to vote and drink alcohol, among many other freedoms. It is a sacred age where our youth takes the next step toward contributing to Aussie culture. With that freedom comes responsibility, and this might be an ideal time for someone to talk about a will. At 18, a person should have enough life experience to name an executor. This is the person who will be in charge during the distribution of assets. Common choices for this role include close friends and relatives, and they don’t need to be a beneficiary.

It’s always better to start something a little early as opposed to late. At 18, the outline of a will should at least be discussed. Work will be starting and pretty soon lump sums of money will be under the name of the young adult. This age is not mandatory, but a smart choice for someone to get on top of their future in a positive way. If nothing else, ponder beneficiary and executor options at this step.

-Entering a relationship.
This obviously doesn’t mean that each time a new fling starts someone has to write a will. This is focusing more specifically on a long-term relationship or marriage. Because of the commitment to each other, both parties should have a solid understanding of their finances and family structure.

Wills are a step toward understanding common goals between partners, adding another benefit for putting the pen to paper. These can be amended depending on how the relationship pans out, but both people should have a will written with their current intentions. Crazy things can happen in life, and the chance increases as age increases. Marriage is a convenient time to look toward the future, because there are a lot of optimistic discussions going on about future finances and family.

-Launching a business or starting a career job.
Starting a business or embarking on a new career track are ideal times to write a will. Rather than right at the start, 8 months to a year in to the change would provide the best time to get going on the planning. After being in a new career job or running a business for almost a year, future monetary potential can be predicted. With this information, writing a will should be a top priority. With large financial accounts, often accompanying a business or career job, allocation of earnings and company shares are vitally important. More than just dividing up the math problem, a will can help keep family strife at a minimum.

-Buying real estate or other large investment.
Real estate or large investments such as cars, boats and other property should be red flags if someone doesn’t have a will. Regardless of how friendly and equal a family may seem, money has ways of making things complicated. A will is necessary for not only the future beneficiaries, but for the holder’s piece of mind. Not knowing what might happen with any possession, financial or not, is a tough spot to be in with all the other obstacles we face in life.

Monumental purchases can be empowering. While it’s a time to enjoy oneself, it’s also an opportunity to take responsibility for the future with regards to current assets.

Part of being Australian is enjoying life to the fullest. To carry on the spirit, writing a will helps keep resources in order in case something happens. Many people view the process as premature if they aren’t nearing the final turn off, and that is understandable. However, there is no better time to start planning a will than the moment someone has enough responsibility and focus. Whether that is their 18th birthday or their wedding day, it depends on the person.

Dennis Aimes is a writer and insurance advisor specializing in funeral plan insurance from GIO

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /

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