There’s a lot of things I’ve done in my 13 years of being a parent. Writing a will isn’t one of them.
I know it’s something I SHOULD do – something every parent should do, actually. I think at least twice a year since becoming a mum I turn to my husband and say “we really need to get a will”. And he always answers with “yep, we probably should get onto that”.
And that’s as far as it goes. Between the nappy changes and sleep deprivation of the early parenting days, to the hectic work-school juggle that now rules our family life, we’ve just never found the time to get it done. And I’m betting we’re not the only ones.
Turns out – and it took us 13 year to figure this out – you don’t need to make an appointment with a lawyer. And you don’t need to spend big on legal fees to get a will that ensures your kids are taken care of. In fact, we did it for a couple of clicks and only a handful of dollars. Problem solved.
State Trustees Will Kit
State Trustees have a simple will kit that parents can fill in without needing to go to through the whole song and dance of speaking to a solicitor. It lets you create a will from the living room couch (or the sidelines at cricket training or the ballet class waiting room or even the pool deck or wherever your parenting life takes you). So there’s really no excuse not to have one.
The State Trustees will kit suits uncomplicated families, for example a two-parent couple with kids. If you have children with special needs, if you’re a blended family or a single parent and there’s child custody order, or if you have an obscene amount of assets, then a kit won’t do and you will need legal advice. But for the rest of us, the State Trustees Will Kit fits the bill just fine. And it’s dead easy to do, if you’ll pardon the pun.
State Trustees asked us to fill one out to show other parents what a cinch it is to get your will sorted. In fact, I filled mine in from the comfort of the couch, while binge-watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix. THAT’s how easy it is to do.
The State Trustees will kit comes with a helpful Will Planning Guide that explains everything you need to include – or not include – and why. It walks you through the whole process, with copious checklists, useful advice (including how to choose an executor) and a sample will so there’s no way you can get it wrong.
I took the time to read the guide thoroughly before starting and I recommend you do too, because it really does make the whole exercise very straightforward and pretty much fool-proof.
The instructions walk you through the nine steps for completing a legal will – a recipe for will-making success, if you like. Only nine steps? I’ve cooked dinners more complicated than that!
These are some of the details from the State Trustees’ Will Planning Guide that I found extra helpful when making my will.
1. Choosing guardians is important
If you die, the other parent will usually look after the kids. (Good luck, husband!) But it’s still important to specify a guardian in your will, in case something happens to both of you. You might not know this, but the Family Court usually makes orders for the appointment of a guardian if both parents die. Naming a preferred guardian for your child in your will is the only real way to make sure your wishes are considered. And there’s less chance they’ll end up with the annoying relative you don’t like.
2. You can still have your say about your kids’ futures
Where you’d like your children to go to school, what hobbies or activities you’d like them to tackle, which people they should have contact with, where you’d like them to live – even how much pocket money they should get and what holidays you’d like them to celebrate. All these things can be included as part of a separate document to your will. If you have a special celebration in mind for their 21st birthday, you can even note this down. That way, if the worse happens and you can’t be there, you’re still a part of their special moments.
The Will Planning Guide has a special section where parents can note all this down.
3. You can leave special items to each child
Putting it all down officially on paper means there’s less chance of squabbles or misunderstandings down the track. So if you want one child to get your engagement ring and other your book collection, then put it in. The kit also helps with what wording to use if you don’t want your kids to inherit your cash until they’re old enough not to blow it all in the App Store.
It took just over an hour to complete my will – not bad, eh? If I’d known it was this quick and easy, I would have done it years ago!
All that’s left for me to do is to let family members know that I have a legally binding will and to lodge it with the Victorian Will Bank.
All that’s left for you is to head over to State Trustees, download a will kit for $31.50, and put together a will of your own.
Click on the image below and you’re well on your way. Happy Will Making!
Your personal circumstances may be more complicated than you first thought or may change and become more complicated over time. If you are unsure whether the State Trustees will kit is the right option for you, or if you want to make an appointment with a will writer, visit the FAQ at State Trustees or seek assistance from a legal or will writing professional in your state.