A will is a legal document signed by a testator or testatrix, or a will maker, which controls the disposition of property owned by that person on his or her death.

Only assets owned personally are controlled by a will. Assets owned by super funds and family trusts are not owned personally and are not controlled by a will. These have to be considered separately in any estate planning exercise.

Only a person with “testamentary capacity” can make a valid will. A will must be in writing and must be properly signed and witnessed to be valid. Normally two independent witnesses must see the will maker sign the will and must then sign each page of the will as witnesses. The witnesses should be independent and not be related to the will maker because a person who witnesses a will cannot be the beneficiary of the will. As a result, relatives are definitely ‘out.’ The witnesses must understand the general nature of the will but they do not need to read the will – their role is to attest that the willmaker signed the will. Usually witnesses do not read the will.

The Dover Group