Simple Will

They say two things in life are certain: death and taxes. This document concerns one of those – and it ain’t taxes.

This do-it-yourself document generator helps you prepare a Simple Will in less than 10 minutes that outlines what you want to happen to your estate after you die.
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Simple Will

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How does it work?

Our intuitive tool will guide you through the process step-by-step from start to finish. It’s quick, easy and simple to understand – just how legal documents ought to be.

The expert interview wizard will help you answer a few questions and prepare your document in the background. You’ll have your custom Simple Will in 10 minutes or less.

When you’re done, print or download both Word and PDF versions for you to review, customise or sign.

What is a Simple Will?

A Simple Will is an estate planning document that individuals use to outline how they wish their estate to be distributed after they pass away.

A Simple Will can also communicate essential instructions such as who retains custody of children or pets, who will take over management of a business, and more.

When should I use the Simple Will?

A Simple Will should be used if you would like to document the distribution of your property and belongings after you die. It can also be used to pass on instructions for managing your personal matters.

What topics does the Simple Will cover?

  • Definitions and interpretation
  • Simple Will
  • Executor
  • Payment of debts and expenses
  • Eligibility Criteria and substitution of Beneficiaries
  • Whole Estate
  • Guardianship
  • Personal items
  • Beneficiary Support Trusts
  • Rights of Occupancy
  • Life Interest Trusts
  • Testamentary Discretionary Trusts
  • Adjustment of Entitlements
  • Powers of Executors
  • Self-managed superannuation fund
  • Funeral directions
  • Important notices
  • Governing law and jurisdiction

What are the main decisions I need to make in creating a Simple Will?

  • Do you want to give the executor/trustee the power of adjustment? 
    • This Will can give the executor/trustee the power to adjust the proportionate distribution of the estate assets, taking into account both the proportionate distribution of such non-estate assets and the overall tax implications.
  • Do you want to leave the whole estate to one or more beneficiaries in one go? 
    • Choose no if you want to make any specific gifts of major assets. If you choose yes, you can still create special trusts and make specific allocations of personal effects by attaching a list to the will. 
  • Would you like to include instructions regarding your final resting place and arrangement? 
    • You may specify instructions for the disposal of your body in a separate list to be signed and stored with the will. This can make it easier to change later. This list should include instructions regarding organ transplantation and use for medical research.
  • Will you nominate a backup for the main substitute executor/trustee? 
    • A second-level backup must be an individual or the public trustee.
  • Do you want to pay your executors/trustees?
    • If so, this will be in addition to any gifts that they may receive under the will and any fees to which they might be entitled for providing any professional services in relation to administering the will.

What other names does Simple Will Go by?

  • Will
  • Last Will
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Simple Will
  • Express Will
  • Short form Will
  • Personal Will

Frequently Asked Questions

The testator – which is the fancy legal name for the person making the will.

The executor or trustee – the person responsible for administering and executing your will and estate. You can appoint up to 3 executors/trustees.

The beneficiary – the person receiving assets or entitlements under the will.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best – in other words, it’s never a bad time to prepare a will.

Simple Wills are great alternatives to their more complex cousin (a Complex Will) for people with small estates and who are relatively young and in good health.

This type of will should be used:

  • for small estates; and
  • where there is negligible risk of any beneficiary being the subject of any bankruptcy or family law claims.

If you have a complex estate, you need a Complex Will.

You’ll need this document when;

  • You organise your assets and decide how to distribute it when you die
  • You want to ensure that your assets are used in a manner that was intended or agreed upon when the will was made.
  • You want the other parties to be aware of the conditions of the Will and the consequences of non-compliance with those conditions. 
  • You want to protect your assets and reduce the amount of tax you might have to  pay.

The executors have two types of powers: long-form or short-form.

Long-form powers are preferable if the testator has any corporate/business interests. If your business interests are more complex, you need a Last Will & Testament, as the Simple Will is not equipped to handle complex corporate/business interests.

Short-form powers do not automatically include powers to create testamentary discretionary trusts and/or superannuation proceeds trusts – however, you can choose to optionally include these specific powers in the will.

Parties: particulars of the testator, executors, and beneficiaries, including names, addresses, ACN for companies, and ABN where applicable.

Assets breakdown: Details of all your assets and personal effects and how you want them to be used and distributed.

Beneficiaries: Specify the beneficiaries and if they can be substituted.

In short, however you like.

You can choose to allocate your entire estate to one or more beneficiaries, in equal or unequal shares, in one go.

Or, you can choose to allocate some specified assets to particular beneficiaries; or leave the balance, called the “residual estate” , to one or more beneficiaries.

To allocate any specific gifts, you need to name at least 2 beneficiaries in the will.

You can give specific gifts of the following asset types: money; real estate; other assets (which you can described in free text); and/or personal chattels (ie, personal effects, sentimental items, etc).

We’ll refer to these as “specific gifts” or “gifts of specified assets”, as opposed to gifts of the whole/residual estate.

You can also leave one or more monetary gifts to charity. This option is available even when choosing to leave the whole estate to one or more beneficiaries in one go.

In a Simple Will, a beneficiary can be a specifically named individual, or a charitable organisation.

For an individual to be able to receive a gift under the will, he/she must:

  • be living (including conceived but not yet born) on the date of the testator’s death;
  • survive the testator by at least 30 days; and
  • attain a specified minimum age.

If an individual survives the testator by at least 30 days but has not yet attained the specified minimum age, the gift will be held on trust for that individual until he/she reaches the specified minimum age.

Yes.

However, you must seek independent legal and taxation advice about the implications of using this will in relation to overseas assets.  

You may need to create a separate will in each jurisdiction and, if so, the interplay between the separate wills must be carefully considered.

A Simple Will can give the executor/trustee the power to adjust the proportionate distribution of the estate assets, taking into account both the proportionate distribution of such non-estate assets and the overall tax implications.

Yes.

If you do intend to leave your entire estate to one or more beneficiaries, you can still create special trusts. Examples of special trusts include beneficiary support trusts, rights of occupancy trusts and/or life interest trusts – if you have at least one individual beneficiary. You can still make specific allocations of personal effects by attaching a list to the will.

Choose “No” if you want to make any specific gifts of major assets, other than personal effects.

If a nominated beneficiary does not survive the testator and a gift to that nominated beneficiary cannot be allocated to any substitutes, then it will form part of the residual estate.

If, for whatever reason, the residual estate cannot be allocated to any of the nominated beneficiaries or their substitutes, then one or more reserve beneficiaries can step in to receive the assets of the residual estate, to avoid intestacy.

A typical example is where the whole estate is left to a spouse per stirpes (which means with automatic substitution to the lineal descendants of the spouse) but the spouse does not survive the testator and leaves behind no lineal descendants. In that case, the reserve beneficiaries may be the siblings of the testator.

You can name reserve beneficiaries in a Simple Will.

Yes.

You can expressly exclude people who may be eligible persons in the will and outline the reasons why they have been excluded.

Broadly speaking, this may include anyone to whom the testator has a responsibility, potentially including a current or former spouse or de facto partner, children, grandchildren, other dependants and persons living in the testator’s household.

There is no guarantee that any particular reasons will be acceptable. The following are some examples of reasons that might potentially be considered valid:

  • Sufficient provision was made for the excluded person during the testator’s lifetime such that further gifts would be unfair to the included beneficiaries;
  • the testator and the excluded person have had no contact for a long time and no relationship of love/affection exists between them;
  • the testator has not had any responsibility for the welfare of the excluded person for many years;
  • the financial circumstances of the excluded person are much better than those of the included beneficiaries and the excluded person is being excluded in order to try to achieve a balance of financial welfare amongst all potentially interested parties; and/or
  • the excluded person has received, or is likely to receive, significant assets from the estate of another person (eg, a former spouse of the testator; a former spouse of the testator’s spouse, etc).

One way to make a Will more flexible is by including a general power of adjustment that enables the executor/trustee to make adjustments to the allocations and entitlements under the will where the executor/trustee reasonably believes that making the adjustments will better reflect the testator’s intentions as to the proportionate distribution of both the estate assets and non-estate assets (eg, assets held in superannuation accounts, a self-managed superannuation fund and/or a separate family trust), on an after-tax basis.

However, this general power of adjustment will not give the executor/trustee the power to add new beneficiaries who aren’t already included in the will.

Yes.

However, if you choose “No”, the will document will give the testator the option to specify instructions for the disposal of his/her body in a separate list to be signed and stored with the will, which the testator can then replace from time to time. 

Any such list should include instructions regarding organ transplantation and use for medical research.

The completed Will document must be signed by the testator plus two witnesses, with all of them signing together, physically located in the same place.

Both witnesses must physically observe the testator sign. Signing by each witness must be physically overseen by the testator and the other witness.

The testator and both witnesses should sign with the same pen.

The witnesses must not be beneficiaries under the Will.

Every page of the will document should be signed.  Each witness must include his/her/their full name and address and contact details and occupation should be added as well.

The executors/trustees are responsible for:

  • applying for probate (a court order allowing the will to be administered);
  • notifying the beneficiaries of their entitlements;
  • gathering and distributing the assets in accordance with the will;
  • ensuring that the testator’s debts, taxes and funeral expenses are paid;
  • managing any assets that are held on trust for beneficiaries pursuant to this will until those trusts vest; and
  • preparing the related accounts and tax returns.

An executor/trustee may be an individual over 18 years of age, an appropriately licensed trustee company, or the Public Trustee.  

You may wish to appoint your solicitor, accountant and/or financial planner as your executor/trustee.

You may wish to specify a further backup to serve as executor/trustee if your first choice substitute is unable or unwilling to act (in other words, a backup for your backup).

A second-level backup must be an individual or the Public Trustee.

As mentioned above, there are specific requirements relating to the signing of a Simple Will.

The completed will document must be signed by the testator plus two witnesses, with all of them signing together, physically located in the same place.

If you need legal advice or assistance, we would be happy to help. Contact us now.

If you are uncertain about the documents, we do not recommend signing them.    

Please contact us directly and we would be happy to assist.

Absolutely! Get in touch with us and we can provide a fixed-fee price to review it.

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