How to write, update or amend a Will

How to leave a gift in your Will

How to write a Will

In Australia, anyone can prepare a Will if they are over 18-years old and deemed to be of sound mind. For a Will to be valid it must be:

  • Written down – you can’t rely on verbally passing on your wishes
  • Signed and witnessed by two people who aren’t your heir or spouse.

Different states and territories may have different rules, so it’s recommended that you check any relevant government websites before you start to make your Will. You can choose to have a trusted professional such as a lawyer help you write your Will or you can write your own using a DIY Wills kit.

To write your own Will you can:

  • Read example Wills online to understand how to structure it and the appropriate language to use
  • Download or purchase a DIY Wills kit
  • Speak to a lawyer or professional if you have any questions about how to write your Will
  • Visit the Public Trustee site for you state or territory to make sure that you understand the services available to you and what it means for life events such as marriage or divorce
  • Be very specific in your instructions and careful to include as much detail as possible. This avoids the possibility of misinterpretation or your Will one day being deemed invalid (Oxfam can help you find someone to help you write your Will if clear communication is a concern for you)
  • If you have a relative or business that is connected to you that you wish to exclude from your Will be very clear about this also
  • File your Will somewhere safe but easily accessible for your loved ones if they need to access it at a later date. Leaving a copy with a solicitor or trusted professional is also a good idea
  • Remember to update your Will every few years to reflect your circumstances

Wording for your Will

How you word your Will depends on the type of gift you’d like to leave and how you’d like your estate to be distributed. If you wish to leave a gift to Oxfam in your Will, the following wording is suggested:

“I give, devise and bequeath, free of all duties and taxes, *____________________________________ to Oxfam Australia (ABN 18 055 208 636) of 130-138 Leicester Street, Carlton Victoria 3053 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.)

How do I update my Will?

If you have an existing Will and simply wish to update it to include a charitable gift to Oxfam, you don’t necessarily have to rewrite your Will from scratch. You can choose to:

  • Amend your Will be adding a section, knowing as adding a ‘codicil’ to your existing Will
  • Choose to revoke the Will and write a new one
  • Destroy your Will

Or when you visit your solicitor, take a copy of our wording (above) with you and they can simply update your existing Will.