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How to word a Will. What you should include when writing your own Will

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The words that you use to write your Will are very important for ensuring that your wishes are carried out just as you planned. Not only do they help to avoid any sensitivities or disputes, but you can take comfort in knowing that your intent is clearly laid out and understood.

Here’s what you need to know about writing your Will, and the words you should include to ensure that both you and your legacy are honoured, just as you wish.

Make your words clear

In Australia, approximately 50% of Wills are contested. Unfortunately, this can result in disputes between loved ones, and major delays in the distribution of assets that could be helping the people and causes that you care about most.

Because you won’t be around to make your intentions clear, it’s particularly important that your words can’t be misconstrued or leave room for ambiguity. While it’s advisable to have a professional such as a solicitor to help write your Will, if you choose to write your own — with the help of a Wills Guide and Will Kit — make sure you have a professional look over it to ensure that it’s legally binding.

It’s also helpful to seek collaboration with the people and organisations that you are considering leaving a gift in your Will to. This helps ensure that the words you choose are relevant to their needs.

Speak to a professional for advice

If you’re ready to start writing your own Will, get in touch with a professional such as a solicitor, or contact the Oxfam bequests team, who will be happy to guide you through the process or point you in the direction of services that are suitable for your situation.

If you’re considering including a charity in your legacy, try using our handy Will Wording guide on how to get started.

What to include when writing your Will

Before you start writing your Will, you need to make some important decisions around who will be included in your legacy and how your assets will be distributed. This will help frame the wording you use in your Will and the different Types of Bequests  that you can leave.

1. List your assets

Start by making a detailed list of your assets. While this can include large assets like your home, car and stocks, also think about the smaller possessions that may have sentimental value to someone close to you. An easy way to group your assets is by:

  • Physical assets such as a house, cars or jewellery
  • Financial assets such as shares or bank savings, and
  • Heirlooms or possessions with sentimental value.

2. List the people or charities you’d like to include

Now that you have your list of assets, it’s time to think deeply about who you’d like to include in your Will. After taking care of your loved ones, consider leaving a gift to a charity that aligns with your values and will use your gift to help make the world a better place for those who need it most.

3. Choose the types of bequests you’d like to leave

The types of gifts you can leave in your Will depend on your circumstances and the legacy you’d like to leave behind. Even the smallest gift can make a big difference. They include:

  • Residual bequests
  • Pecuniary bequest
  • Specific bequests
  • Contingent bequests
  • Percentage of estate
  • Whole estate

For a thorough explanation on each type of bequest, and how it could be worded in your Will, check out: Types of Bequests.

4. Choose two executors to distribute your estate

An executor is someone who you trust to oversee the distribution of your estate. Many people choose a family member or friend; or a professional such as a solicitor or accountant who they’ve had a long relationship with. It’s best practice to choose at least two executors in case someone is unable to take up the job, when required.

Why should I write a charitable legacy into my Will?

After making sure that your loved ones are properly cared for, leaving a gift to charity in your Will can be one of the most important legacies that you leave.

Vulnerable communities across the world are facing increasing threats such as climate damage, economic inequality and a worsening global health crisis — making the people and programs which support them more essential than ever.

Photo: James Riturban/OxfamAUS

By leaving even a small gift to Oxfam in your Will, you are directly supporting a global movement of people working hard to tackle poverty and inequality through practical, innovative solutions which help people lift themselves out of poverty.

To learn more about the work we do, head here

How do I write a charitable bequest into my Will?

If you make the generous decision to include a gift to Oxfam in your Will, your values and legacy for compassion is given the opportunity to live on and make a positive impact on the lives of others, for generations.

If you’re writing your Will and are wondering how to include us, we suggest using the following template:

“I give, devise and bequeath, free of all duties and taxes, *____________________________________ to Oxfam Australia (ABN 18 055 208 636) of 355 William St West Melbourne VIC 3003 for its general purposes. An authorised receipt from Oxfam Australia will be a sufficient discharge for the executor(s) or trustee without seeing to the final distribution of the funds.”

*Insert one of the following:
the whole (or …%) of the residue of my estate
the whole (or …%) of my estate
the sum of $ (amount)
(Details of a particular asset, such as shares or property.)

Through your Will, your values and compassion have the power to transform the lives of those closest to you, and all over the world, for many years to come. But to ensure that your wishes are carried out, remember that it’s essential you’re particular in how you word your Will.

If you’re unsure, download our Free Will Guide and Will Wording template and take them with you when you visit your trusted legal professional. Otherwise, reach out to the friendly Oxfam bequests team for more information.

Leave a legacy to be proud of.

Want to learn more about how to leave a legacy with Oxfam? Reach out to our Bequests Team on 1800 088 110 or