Listen to the audio
Research shows that many Australians underestimate the importance of having a will. But experts argue that planning for your loved ones’ future should be a priority regardless of age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. So, what is a will, who should have one, and what should it include?
A will is a legal document with instructions for who you want to inherit your estate, care for your children, and be the executor of your estate when you pass away.
According to a 2015 study, only older Australians and those with significant assets most commonly had a will in place.
- Research shows that one in two Australians do not have a will in place.
- Experts say cultural reasons, misconceptions and even superstitions behind people avoiding a will.
- Assets are distributed according to the default state legislation in case of death without a will.
Adam Steen, Professor of Practice at Deakin University, led another large-scale study two years later. It showed that almost half of those surveyed did not have a will in place.
“Basically, you get the same things that most people don't want to engage in the discussion about wills and death and estates and all that kind of stuff. There's a large proportion of people, you know, roughly about 50% or just under 50%.”
Prof Steen says various misconceptions and superstitions are among the reasons that people refrain from making a will.
“What we found is that there's a large proportion of people who don't think that they need a will. And there's also a significant proportion of people who think if they make a will, they're going to die.
Some people think ‘we don't have enough money, we're not old enough'. Those factors really apply across the board. Not just in ethnic communities, but also Anglo-Saxon communities as well.”