About Your Bequest
Bequests can make a positive difference in many possible ways, all very important to the Parkinson’s community:
- Underwriting support services provided by Parkinson’s NSW
- Providing training for doctors, nurses and specialists in Parkinson’s disease
- Supporting vital research into possible cures, treatment methods
To carry out its vital work Parkinson’s NSW is reliant on contributions from the community; bequests make up a significant part of these contributions. After carefully considering your family and friends in your Will, making a bequest to Parkinson’s NSW ensures that you will be well remembered and leave a lasting gift which will continue to make a difference well into the future.
Many members, their partners and friends make bequests which range from modest sums up to six or even seven figure amounts. A bequest can be for a specific amount of money, valuable items, or a designated fraction of an estate. If you are considering leaving a bequest in your will, the correct wording can be obtained by using the following form or contacting Parkinson’s NSW.
Notifying Us About Your Bequest
Communicate your wishes to your loved ones and please consider telling us about your bequest. Notifying us does not alter your right to change or update your wishes if circumstances change but it does help us plan for the future.
We are here to help with any questions you have on the very personal decision to leave a gift in your will; please contact 1800 644 189 for more information and ask for Peter, our Donor Relations Manager
Why Make a Will
Throughout our lifetime, we have worked hard to provide as best we can for our loved ones and the charities we have supported. It seems a shame therefore to neglect the ultimate means of sharing our legacy: a legal up-to-date Will.
Research shows that a large percentage of Australians still leave matters to chance and fail to make a Will. Unfortunately, by doing so their estate will be distributed using a formula decided by law, not by them. This can result in added expense, delays and inconvenience to family and friends during a time of grief. Important matters, such as the guardianship of minor children is left for state laws to determine. In some cases, all assets will pass to the state if no next of kin can be established. Most importantly the genuine concerns and wishes of the deceased may not be addressed to their satisfaction.
Who should make a Will?
Every person over the age of eighteen should have a legal up-to-date Will.
It is essential that your Will is updated on a regular basis. This is particularly important when a family situation changes such as a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.
A Will that does not reflect current family status may be invalid. For example, marriage after a will revokes that will.
A carefully drafted Will allows you to:
- Divide your estate the way you choose.
- Make necessary arrangements for your family and loved ones.
- Choose an executor to carry out the instructions in your Will and settle your estate.
- Name a guardian for children who are minors.
- Provide for the charities you have supported throughout your life.
The first step is to make a list of the family members, friends and organisations you want to benefit from the distribution of your estate.
Gather all relevant information on your assets, e.g. real estate, bank accounts, shares,
Life insurance, superannuation, cars, jewellery etc.
Decide who will receive your assets
Decide on your executor(s) and make sure that they are agreeable to performing that role.
If you have children under the age of 18 years, decide who you wish to nominate as their guardian. Note that your executor would be become trustee of their share until they reach 18 years of age.
Seek qualified assistance from a solicitor or trustee company in drafting your Will. This will ensure your wishes are expressed in the correct legal format. Bear in mind that the solicitor or trustee company who assists you in drafting your Will is likely to be the one your family approaches for guidance.
Witnessing a Will
A Will is invalid unless it is signed in the presence of two witness’s. A beneficiary or spouse of a beneficiary must not witness a Will.
Choosing an executor
When making a Will, choosing the right Executor is an important decision. The duties of an Executor can be difficult, demanding and time consuming. In many cases, an Executor will require legal or other professional representation which involves costs and liabilities to the estate.
Your executor will need to:
- Identify all your assets and liabilities.
- Apply for probate.
- Prepare tax returns for you and your estate.
- Defend your estate from any legal claims.
- Mediate and resolve any disputes between beneficiaries.
- Distribute the proceeds of your estate as set out in your will.
Keeping your Will safe
The Supreme Court of NSW requires a person’s original Will in order to grant probate as do other interstate Probate jurisdictions. If the original will cannot be found, the starting position of the Court is that the deceased person did not have a Will. This is called dying intestate, which means that the deceased assets may be distributed according to a pre-determined government formula. An executor may be able to reverse the starting position of the Court but this can be a costly exercise.
Wherever you store your Will, make sure that it is in a secure place, can be retrieved when required and that you inform your executor(s) and family of its whereabouts.
If you have your Will prepared by the NSW Public Trustee and Guardian or a Trustee Company they can provide you with a Will safe keeping service and certified copies for home keeping.
Solicitors can offer the same services but it may be advisable for you to retain and store the original Will in a safe at home or a safe custody box/envelope at your bank as over extended periods of time (20-40 years) local solicitors practices may be sold/merged or cease to trade and the chain of safe custody of your Will may be disrupted. The Law Society of NSW can provide assistance with searches for past practicing solicitors.
Who should assist you prepare your Will
We recommend that careful consideration be given to having a professional body such as a solicitor, Trustee Company or the NSW Public Trustee and Guardian prepare your Will. A professional body such as these can also provide executor and trustee services.
IMPORTANT: Never attach other documents to the Will with staples, paperclips or anything else. They leave a mark on the Will, raising questions about whether the Will is missing a part or an amendment.
When should I review my Will?
- Upon marriage.
- Upon separation.
- Upon divorce.
- Upon entering a defacto relationship.
- When amendments are made to the law (e.g. tax, superannuation).
- After the purchase or sale of substantial assets.
- Upon the birth or adoption of a child.
- Upon the death of a beneficiary or executor.
- Once children or grandchildren turn 18.
A minor change or addition to your Will can be done simply by adding a codicil. This saves re-doing the whole Will. It’s an extra document that becomes part of your Will and is best drawn up by a solicitor and needs to be witnessed. A codicil is a straight forward way of adding a gift to a charity in your Will.
The effect of marriage and divorce
Marriage revokes a Will unless the Will is made in contemplation of marriage. In some cases divorce revokes the appointment of the former spouse as executor.
Powers of Attorney and Guardianship
Giving someone ‘Power of Attorney ‘ means that you are giving them the power to look after your legal and financial affairs.
An enduring Power of Attorney allows someone you trust and nominate to act on your behalf in case you are no longer able to do so. For instance, your attorney will be able to operate your bank account if you are overseas. Should you ever become mentally incapacitated, this person would act on your behalf.
An enduring Power of Guardianship allows someone, usually a family member, to act upon your behalf with regards to lifestyle, health and medical decisions for you when you are not capable of doing this for yourself. Your Enduring Guardian may make decisions such as where you live, what services are provided to you at home and what medical treatment you receive.
Enduring Guardianship only comes into effect if or when you lose capacity and will only be effective during the period of incapacity, therefore, it may never become operational. However, it is an effective way to plan for the future, particularly for unforeseen situations.
These Power of Attorneys and Guardianship are important legal documents in their own right. To have legal effect should only be prepared by a professional body such as solicitor, trustee company or the NSW Public Trustee and Guardian. Like Wills these documents should be kept in a secure place.
Most importantly these Power of Attorneys and Guardianship cease to have legal effect at the date of death.
Thank you for giving consideration to leaving a bequest in your will to Parkinson’s NSW. Your legacy will provide vital support and services to those people living with Parkinson’s, their families, carers and supporters.