Skip to Content (Press Enter)
All Funeral Insurance Articles

Planning • 6 min read

Tips for how to write a will

Writing a will gives you the power to decide what happens to your assets—and make sure your loved ones are well looked after in your absence.

Writing a will gives you the power to decide what happens to your assets—and make sure your loved ones are well looked after in your absence.

Being invited to write a eulogy is a real honour, but it can also be challenging—especially when you’re struggling with loss.

It’s only natural to want to avoid writing a will. However, if you’re feeling hesitant, you can switch your thinking and look at learning how to write a will as an opportunity, rather than a burden.

After all, if you’ve worked hard to build your assets, then why wouldn’t you want to make sure that, when you’re gone, they benefit the people you care about the most?

What is a will?

A will is a legally binding document that sets out what happens to your assets. It can also include instructions for guardianship for anyone under your care, such as underaged children, when you die.

What happens if you die without planning a will?

If you die without a will, then you ‘die intestate’. This means that the future of your assets will be determined, not by you, but by the law.

In most cases, your assets will go to your next of kin—be that your partner, your children or your parents.

However, the rules are complex. Plus, the process isn’t automatic, which could put pressure on your loved ones, who would need to complete burdensome processes, such as seeking letters of administration.

If you don’t have any relatives, then your assets could end up in the hands of the government.

What is typically included in a will?

What goes into your will is up to you. As a rule of thumb, when planning a will, you should put together:

  • A list of your assets, and who will inherit which assets. This may include donations to charity organisations.
  • The name of the executor of your will, who will take care of your estate and distribute your assets in keeping with your wishes.
  • Details of your desired funeral arrangements.
  • If you have children under 18 or pets, details of who will look after them, and how they’ll be looked after.
  • If you are the primary carer to parents or sick relatives, details of how they’ll be cared for in your absence.

When can you start planning a will?

Anyone who’s over 18 can write a will. Many people think they don’t need to start planning a will because they don’t have assets or dependants. However, receiving little things, such as photographs and much-loved objects, can mean a lot to those left behind—and making decisions about who will receive your belongings can minimise the likelihood of arguments.

On top of that, many people over 18 in Australia have at least some superannuation, through which they might also have a life insurance policy.

Life insurance provides your loved ones—usually your partner and/or dependants—with a lump sum, which helps them financially after your death. The money can go towards paying debts, including your medical bills and funeral expenses, as well a mortgage and personal loans. It can also act as replacement income, ensuring your loved ones are able to meet daily expenses in your absence.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that where your life insurance policy is part of your superannuation arrangements, it doesn’t automatically form part of your estate and any beneficiaries will need to be communicated in writing to your superannuation fund.

It’s important to get onto planning a will while you’re healthy, well and sound of mind. As much as we don’t like to think about it, accidents and unexpected illnesses can happen. Many Australians die every year without a will, often putting their loved ones through unnecessary anguish and uncertainty.

Can you update your will?

Once you’ve written a will, you should review it regularly—and update it if necessary. Assets, relationships, and circumstances can change as the years go by, and your will should reflect your current situation, not the one you were in 20, 40, or 60 years before you died. It’s vital to go over your will when life-changing events take place, such as moving in with your partner, getting married, buying a house, getting divorced, having a child, or taking on the care of a parent or sick relative.

When reviewing your will, it would also be a good time to review your life insurance policy to ensure it will adequately provide for your loved ones if you were to pass away. A life insurance policy would typically reflect changes in income, liabilities, and debts as its main purpose is to help your loved ones continue to live the life you’ve planned for them even when you’re gone. Some life insurance policies provide an advance payout of up to $10,000 that can be used to help with any legal expenses related to settling your will or for more immediate funeral expenses.

Alternatively, if you’re unable to get life insurance cover, a guaranteed acceptance funeral insurance policy can provide a smaller lump sum amount paid out quickly. This can go towards helping cover the cost of your funeral, as well as paying for legal costs associated with distributing your assets to the people you intended them for.

Can you write a will yourself and where can you get help with writing a will?

It’s possible to write a will yourself, however, given wills are legal documents and are interpreted according to particular rules, it is always recommended to get the help of a solicitor who knows the law surrounding how to write a will in Australia—or the public trustee in your state. They may be able to raise things and give advice on scenarios that you would’ve never considered.

If you decide to write a will yourself, you must be careful to ensure your will is valid and legally binding.

How can you make sure a will is legally binding?

To be legally binding, a will must be:

  • In writing; and
  • Signed by you, in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign it.

These witnesses must be 18 years or older and sound of mind. They must not be executors or beneficiaries of your will, or your partner.

In addition, when planning a will, you should check the laws in your state. One of the important things to remember when considering how to write a will in Australia is that the laws governing will vary from state to state.

Your will, their future

A will gives you the chance to be clear about your wishes, and, in the process, prevent your loved ones from going through stress, anxiety, and conflict—while saving money on legal fees and administrative tangles.

At the same time, it’s a chance to make sure that, should anything happen to you, your dependants will be looked after.

Learn more about our life insurance and funeral insurance products, while you’re planning a will and putting your final plans into action.

Remember, if are unsure about your will’s legality, you should get in touch with a lawyer or public trustee who’s an expert on how to write a will in Australia.

Important information

This article is a summary and is current at the date of publication. It is not legal advice. The law can change and how it applies to you often depends on your circumstances. If you need legal advice, seek the services of a lawyer who specialises in giving advice on the topic you need advice about.

Cover under the Funeral Insurance Benefit is for Accidental Death only for the first 12 months of cover, including for any increases. Accidental Death has a special meaning in the PDS and some causes of death are excluded during this time—please refer to the PDS or call us for further details. After the first 12 months, the Funeral Insurance Benefit provides cover for all causes of death.

Backed by TAL

^Insuranceline Win 1 of 5 $1000 Visa Cards (Competition). Subject to the Terms and Conditions, the Promotor is offering customers a chance to win one of five Digital Visa Gift Cards valued at $1,000, in one of the four draws. Entry commences on the 1st of April 2024 and will run for four months until 11:59pm AEST on the 31st of July 2024 (Entry Period). During the Entry Period, to be eligible to participate in the Competition, customers must get a quote and take out a new Insuranceline Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance, or Funeral Insurance policy to enter the Competition. A maximum of one (1) entry into the Competition will be awarded per eligible policy. The Promotion is not open to existing customers, or customers who have cancelled a Promoter branded policy in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the Entry Period and then taken out a new Insuranceline branded policy. Each of the four Prize Draws will take place at Level 16, 1 Denison Street, North Sydney NSW 2060 on the respective Prize Draw and Time, as listed in the table in Condition 13 (and if any Redraws if there are any unclaimed prizes, Condition 19) of the full Terms and Conditions, and the winners will be sent an email and will be attempted to be notified via phone within two (2) business days of the Draw and published on Max. retail value of the total prize pool is $20,000. To be eligible at time of the draw, customers must still have an active policy and have paid 1 month of premiums in full. View eligibility criteria and full terms and conditions here. Promoter: TAL Direct Pty Limited ABN 39 084 666 017 AFSL 243260. Permits: NSW NTP/09255, ACT TP24/00483, & SA Licence No. T24/388.

**Bonus 10% more cover is calculated on the fifth anniversary from the Policy Commencement Date. Each adult life insured will have an extra 10% of the average Funeral Insurance Cover amount held during the previous five years added to their Funeral Insurance benefit. Terms and conditions apply. Refer to the PDS for more information.

#Claims paid figures relate to all Insuranceline life insurance policies in the 2021 financial reporting year (1 April2021 to 31 March 2022). All claims on Insuranceline policies are assessed against the relevant policy terms and conditions. These terms and conditions, as well an explanation of the claims process, can be found in the applicable Product Disclosure Statement. Claims are administered and settled by the insurer, TAL Life Limited.

***Insuranceline is the longest standing provider of Funeral Insurance in Australia, based on: Strategic Insight, Actuaries & Researchers. Funeral Insurance means a policy with periodic premium payments that provides a lump sum to help pay for funeral and associated expenses when you die and excludes pre-paid Funeral Plans and Funeral Bonds.

The information provided on this website is general advice only which means it does not take into account your individual needs, objectives or financial situation. For this reason, you should consider whether it is appropriate for you, and before you decide to buy or to continue to hold an insurance product, you must read the relevant Combined Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and the Financial Services Guide (FSG). The PDS/FSG contains important information which will help you understand the product, including what's covered and what's not covered and to decide whether it is appropriate for you. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for the relevant product, where applicable, is also available.

If you are considering cancelling a policy you already hold in order to replace it with a new policy, make sure you read the terms and conditions of both policies before you make a decision. The cover terms may be different, you may lose benefits accrued under your existing policy, and waiting periods may apply to the new policy. Changes in your personal circumstances (such as your age, health, and employment) that have occurred since your existing policy was originally taken out may also affect your new policy. As your application for a new policy may not be accepted, and some policies may be unable to be reinstated after they have been cancelled, you should consider waiting until your new policy is confirmed before you cancel any existing cover.

Promoted by Insuranceline, a trading name of TAL Direct Pty Limited (of Level 16, 363 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000) ABN 39 084 666 017 AFSL 243260. TAL Life Limited ABN 70 050 109 450 AFSL 237848 issues the life insurance benefits. St Andrew's Insurance (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 89 075 044 656 AFSL 239649 issues the Involuntary Unemployment Cover.

The ways in which Insuranceline collects, uses, discloses and secures your personal information are set out in the Insuranceline Privacy Policy, which is available free of charge on request.