Tips for estate planning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published 01 May 2020

It's always a good idea to have a will in place, yet Money Management pointed out that half of all Australian adults don't have an estate plan. This means, when they pass away their assets including money, property and goods could be divided at the courts' discretion.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people thinking about their health and estate planning, and 7 News reported that interest in creating a will has more than doubled since the pandemic began.

If you're estate planning during these uncertain times, follow these tips to ensure you're creating the best legally binding document for your needs.

Don't make rash decisions out of fear

Even though right now is a stressful time, that doesn't mean you should be hasty in creating a will. Estate planning takes a lot of time, thought and patience to ensure your wishes are articulated precisely. Explicitly state who is included in the will, and if you are leaving a dependent out for a reason, explain why – otherwise it could be more easily contested in court.

Continue to update your will

If you are just drafting a will now, remember that it may need to be updated in the future. Money Management recommended you review your will regularly, even annually, to ensure it's up to date and accurately reflects your desires and current circumstances (like your assets). Having a thorough estate plan is only beneficial if it's accurate and includes living beneficiaries and existing assets.

Ensure your estate plan will hold up in court

With social distancing rules in place, it can be difficult to receive signatures and witnesses needed for an estate planning will. While some states, like NSW are temporarily allowing Skype, FaceTime and Zoom to be used for virtual witnessing of documents during the pandemic, that's not the case everywhere, iTnews reported. As you draft your estate planning will, ensure you are following your local government's rule around signatures and witnessing to ensure it will hold up in court.

Receive professional advice

If you're not sure where to begin your estate planning or want to reduce the chances that it's contested in the future, consider seeking professional advice from a lawyer. They can help you through the legal process from start to finish with expert advice.

If you believe you have grounds for contesting a will the Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation Will Dispute Lawyers are here to help.

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