Writing a will at a young age - as told by a probates lawyer

It’s something no one really wants to think about – but for every adult in Australia it’s important consider having a will in place. Not only can this ease the burden on those who survive you, but it can also guarantee that your final wishes are carried out.

It’s much more likely that young Australians may not create a will for many years, compared to those who’ve started a family or are approaching retirement. 

According to Del Copeland of Copeland Estates Legal, anyone over the age of 18 should seriously consider getting their affairs in order.

The importance of planning your last wishes 

When you start to look into the specifics, you’ll find that there are quite a few things you need to organise before you pass away. Top of the list is will-writing, as this will be the legal document that states your wishes to be carried out after you pass away. Even if you are young and fit, Del says it’s wise to get on top of it as soon as possible. 

“While we all have thoughts of being around forever, the reality is that life has very few guarantees and you never know when your ticket may be punched,” Del says. 

“Making your wishes known, having important discussions with your loved ones and getting documents in place won’t hasten your demise, but it will make sure that when the time comes – whether sooner or later – you’ve done what you can to make it as easy as possible for your loved ones to pick up the pieces and deal with the details,” she adds.

Why young people should consider last wishes

As a Wills and Estates Lawyer, Del says she has had far too many parents turn to her for help with looking after the estate of their son or daughter who was taken too soon – often in unexpected circumstances.

“In those instances, it has usually been the case that parents had to make guesses as to last wishes because their young people hadn’t considered or communicated them,” she says. 

“Considering last wishes is often a simple thing to do and can give significant peace of mind to the loved ones you leave behind.”

Integrating last wishes into long-term planning 

Having a will and keeping it up to date is just one piece of the puzzle. You may also want to start planning and saving for your funeral, which can be made easier by considering funeral insurance. Or you may want to speak to your friends and family about your last wishes, so they are aware of your plans in advance. 

Del also says that a legal professional can come in extremely handy when carrying out the task of creating your will.

“Often the first step of getting last wishes in place is meeting with a Wills and Estates Lawyer,” Del says. 

“Parts of the discussion you’ll have, aside from deciding on your executor and beneficiaries, will be whether you have any preference as to funeral arrangements, cremation, or burial. 

“This may also trigger further thoughts about what is most precious to you, sentimental or valuable, and what you may need to get in place so your wishes can be carried out.”

Taking out the stress later in life 

As we get older, there’s much more to think about than just how to spend your day-to-day. You may be planning to get married or start a family. You might be thinking about buying your first home or downsizing after the kids have flown the coop. Or you might be juggling finances as you prepare to leave the workforce and enjoy your retirement.

These major life milestones may affect your last wishes, and as such, you’ll want to ensure they are reflected in your will. By creating one early in life, it could end up being much easier – and less time-consuming – to update it or make additions compared to writing it from scratch later on.

Last wishes and preventing disputes 

The death of a loved one is an emotionally charged time for family and friends, and this can unfortunately become even more pronounced when it comes to how their estate will be disbursed. If you don’t have a will when you pass away, it may be much more complicated for those around you to see your last wishes are carried out appropriately.

Sometimes disputes can arise, which may require mediation or even the courts getting involved. If you don’t want to put that type of burden on those you care about most, make sure you consider writing a will and update it periodically. 

Del says this is important not just for how and where to disburse your estate, but to ensure your wishes for your final send-off are carried out as you planned.

“I have found the main last wishes that people are concerned over – other than a will, which is the most important – are in relation to their remains,” she says.   

“This includes where ashes may be deposited or scattered, or if they want to be placed near someone they loved and already lost, and also whether or not they have a service. This is something that can be put in a will or communicated to the executor they’ve nominated in their will.”

While you are thinking about your last wishes, it may also be a good time to consider whether you need to take out a funeral insurance policy. Speak to Guardian Insurance on 1300 709 560 or request a quote online today.

Author photo of Delphine Copeland

Delphine Copeland

Will and Estates Lawyer from Copeland Estates Legal

Delphine Copeland became a solicitor in 2008 and quickly fell in love with Wills and Estates. She has looked after estate planning clients and the executors and administrators of deceased estates for the significant majority of her career in law. Estate planning, Deceased Estates, Succession Planning are both her passions and chosen vocations. Delphine was a committee member of the 2022 NSW Law Society Elder Law, Capacity and Succession Committee.