Why two young Queenslanders are urging everyone over 18 to make a valid Will
15 September 2023
When 19-year-old Cairns-based law student Tyla Lawson (pictured) first had her own personal interaction with Wills, it was off the back of a strenuous grieving process.
“We recently had the unexpected loss of my great aunt, and she hadn’t updated her Will in such a long time,” says Ms Lawson.
“Then, in the end, she had limited capacity and she couldn’t vocalise what she wanted,” Ms Lawson says.
Through her degree, Ms Lawson wasn’t a stranger to the concept of end-of-life planning. Yet what became painfully apparent when she lost her great aunt, was how much life can change, and how important it is to reflect these changes in your Will.
“This was my first exposure to a situation like this, but when I looked into it, I realised this happens all of the time,” she says.
The silver lining for Ms Lawson and her family was the traction the situation created. Now, all of Ms Lawson’s siblings and her parents are chatting openly about advance life planning and what their own wishes might be.
It’s this messaging, that everyone over the age of 18 needs a Will, that is leading the country’s first ever National Wills Week, being held from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 September 2023.
“There’s no such thing as being too prepared, and if there’s anything I’ve learnt throughout this whole process it’s that making a Will isn’t as daunting as you think it is,” says Ms Lawson.
Research conducted by the Queensland Public Trustee found there to be concerningly low end-of-life planning and Will adoption rates for people aged 18 to 25.
Two of the largest barriers contributing to this statistic was the belief that they’re too young to warrant a Will, and a fear of thinking about end-of-life planning.
“I’ve got my Will appointment booked with a solicitor. It takes 45 minutes to do, so you walk in and walk out with a Will,” she says.
“And in preparation for the appointment, I’ve written something sweet and light-hearted for my siblings in case I suddenly pass.”
“This was something I learnt in the process, that you can leave letters or photos in safe custody with your Will.”
Another young Queenslander who has been contemplating the importance of Wills is 25-year-old Brisbane-based sustainability consultant Prudence Liddy.
“Several years ago, friends started buying properties, and we began talking about Wills and their importance,” says Ms Liddy.
“Then in the last few months, I’ve had a young family member pass away, as well as a friend from high school,” she says.
“It’s all highlighted just how important having a Will is.”
Initially, when Ms Liddy and her friends chatted about Wills, she felt she didn’t have anything worth writing into a Will. However, the recent loss of two young people in her life has turned this notion on its head.
“Wills aren’t just about what you do with your money,” says Ms Liddy.
“They’re about so much more, like what you want to happen to your body when you pass away, who needs to be contacted and how, and what you’d like to happen to your varying assets,” she says.
One major asset that is becoming increasingly important to consider for all Queenslanders, especially younger Queenslanders, is what happens to a person’s online world if something happens to them.
This can include anything that is created or accessed digitally, such as cryptocurrency, stocks and shares, loyalty programs, photo libraries, streaming services, and even digital health records.
“You can include instructions in your Will for all of your digital accounts, you can even put what you want to happen with your social media accounts,” says Ms Liddy.
“It made me realise, I really don’t know my passwords to things, or even who I have accounts with!”
Another item that has also popped onto Ms Liddy’s radar throughout this journey is who or what you can leave money to. Increasingly, more Queenslanders are choosing to leave portions of their estates to their passion, as well as to their loved ones.
“I’m passionate about sustainability, climate change and disaster management, so being able to support these causes after I’m gone is massively important for me,” she says.
If you’d like more information on Wills and where to find a solicitor or succession law practitioner near you, head to www.willsweek.com.au