A will is a traditional legal document which:

  • Names individuals (or charitable organizations) who will receive your assets after your death, either by outright gift or in a trust.
  • Nominates an executor who will be appointed to manage your estate; pay your debts, expenses and taxes; and distribute your estate according to the instructions in your will.
  • Nominates guardians for your minor children.
Most assets in your name alone at your death will be subject to your will. Some exceptions include Companies and Trusts and bank accounts that have designated beneficiaries, life insurance policies, Superannuation and other tax-deferred retirement plans, and some annuities.

Such assets may pass directly to the beneficiaries and would not be included in your will.

In addition, certain co-owned assets would pass directly to the surviving co-owner regardless of any instructions in your will. And assets that have been transferred to a Trust created during your lifetime would be distributed through the trust—not your will.