Make a Will: Public Trustee

A Will is a legal document that describes how you wish your assets to be distributed upon your death.

If you die without a Will then your estate may be distributed according to predetermined formulas, which may not be what you want.

With a carefully considered and valid Will you can also:

  • Choose an executor, being the person who will look after your estate and distribute it according to the instructions in your Will.
  • If your children are under 18, nominate guardians for them and make arrangements for their maintenance and education.
  • Express your funeral wishes.
  • Provide for others through the creation of trusts.
  • Give some or all of your estate to charities or philanthropic organisations such as the Give2Good Foundation.

Public Trustee Wills

Your Will is one of the most important documents for you and your family, so it is wise to have it prepared by professionals. The Public Trustee’s Wills Officers will guide you through the process, addressing any concerns that may arise, while ensuring that you have a Will tailored to suit your requirements.

The Public Trustee drafts Wills that nominate the Public Trustee as the primary or a substitute executor.

Will drafting fees and charges

For information about our fees, refer to the Wills, WA Will Bank and Enduring Powers of Attorney brochure.

Make an appointment

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1. Read our brochures to assess whether our service is right for you

2. Complete and return the Will Application Form

Complete a Will Application Form (WAF) and return it to us by email at PTOWillsAppointments@justice.wa.gov.au The WAF helps us assess whether we can prepare a Will for you, and whether your circumstances may require additional work.

For the best experience completing this WAF, please download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC from the Adobe website (Windows/MacOS), Adobe Acrobat Reader for PDF from the Apple App Store (iOS) or Adobe Acrobat Reader: PDF Viewer, Editor and Creator from the Google Play Store (Android). 

If you have difficulty completing the WAF, call us on 1300 746 116 or email PTOWillsAppointments@justice.wa.gov.au and one of our Client Service Officers will help you.

3. Will Application Form review

Once we have received the Will Application Form, we will endeavour to have one of our Legal Officers review it within three business days. If there is an issue, a Legal Officer will contact you to discuss the matter.

4. Booking your appointment

Once the Will Application Form has been reviewed, one of our Client Service Officers will contact you to book your appointment.

Depending on your circumstances, appointments are as follows:

  • Metro clients – Will interviews are normally conducted at our office located on the ground floor at 553 Hay Street Perth. Phone appointments may be possible.
  • Regional clients – Will interviews can be normally completed over the phone for clients living outside a 50 km radius of Perth.
  • Wills on Wheels – For those who are unable to attend a face-to-face appointment due to health or mobility restrictions we may be able to visit you at home or in hospital if you live within a 30 km radius of Perth. Conditions apply as the availability of this service is limited.

5. Confirming your appointment

Once your appointment has been booked, we will confirm in writing and provide you with more information about the appointment.

If your appointment is held by phone, you will need to provide certified identification before the appointment can proceed. If you are not able to do that, please provide what identification you can and it will be considered.

6. Attending your Appointment

Taking your instructions, drafting and executing your Will typically takes about 1.5 – 2 hours. Sometimes it may take more time, for example, if you have many questions or if your Will is complicated.

For metro clients you can complete and sign your Will at the interview but don’t have to do so. You will also need to bring two forms of identification, especially any Centrelink concession cards.

For regional clients, you won’t need to stay on the phone while we draft your Will so your time on the phone could be about an hour. We will send your Will to you by post with instructions on how to get it properly signed.

For all clients, full payment is expected on the day of the appointment.

If you are unwell on the day of your appointment, please contact us on 1300 746 116 or at PTOWillsAppointments@justice.wa.gov.au as we may be able to conduct your appointment over the phone instead.

7. Store your Will in the WA Will Bank

You can choose to store your Will in the free WA Will Bank. If you have completed a Will with the Public Trustee, you do not need to complete any deposit forms.

When should I make or update my Will?

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If you die without a valid Will, you are said to have died "intestate", which means your assets will be distributed according to formulas set out in legislation, subject to any claims under the Family Provision Act 1972 (WA).  This doesn’t necessarily mean all of your estate automatically goes to the Government as the circumstances for this are relatively rare, but your estate may pass in a manner you don’t want or expect. It may also be more complicated, cost more and take longer for your estate to be administered. This in turn may cause considerable stress and uncertainty for your family.

If you have a Will, it’s a good idea to review it at least every few years to check that it reflects what you want, but here are some other circumstances when you should update it, if:

  • you have married or divorced, or are planning to do so. In WA, marriage and divorce normally revoke a Will, but special clauses can be included in a Will to prevent this;
  • you start or end a long-term relationship, even if that doesn’t involve getting married or divorced;
  • you’ve left a specific asset to someone in your Will and you sell it or give it away before you die;
  • a child is born and you want them to benefit from your Will;
  • your executor or a beneficiary dies, and there are no substitute provisions in your Will;
  • you change your mind about who should benefit under your Will; or
  • your financial circumstances change significantly.

Choosing an executor

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When making a Will, choosing the right executor is important.

The duties of an executor may include:

  • locating and securing the last Will
  • identifying and notifying beneficiaries (those people or organisations who benefit under the Will)
  • applying for a Grant of Probate
  • securing assets, valuing the estate and ensuring assets are insured
  • identifying and paying creditors
  • lodging tax returns
  • establishing and managing trusts (if established by the Will)
  • collecting bank accounts and investments, selling or transferring vehicles, realty, shareholdings and other assets
  • representing the estate in legal action
  • distributing the estate.

These duties can be complex and time-consuming. If you appoint a professional, it can relieve the burden on your family and friends at a difficult time.

When deciding who to choose as executor, consider the following: 

  • Is your chosen person willing and able to carry out these duties, as they can be difficult, demanding and time consuming.
  • Will the executor be able to engage legal or other professional help (for example, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents)?
  • The executor could, in some cases, become personally liable for actions they take.

Before nominating someone to act as executor, you would normally ask them and tell them once you have made the Will and where it’s located. Sometimes though, telling people can cause ill-feeling before your death and put you under pressure to change your Will.

After your death, an executor doesn’t have to take on the role. If you are appointed as executor of someone else’s Will, it may be possible for you to renounce and/or hand over the responsibility to another individual or the Public Trustee.

Why nominate the Public Trustee as your independent executor?

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People choose the Public Trustee as their executor to spare their loved ones from having to carry out the onerous responsibilities of an executor and from the added emotional stress. Alternatively you may not have anyone who you can trust to take on this complex role. If there is conflict between family members, it’s better to appoint an independent third party to manage the process.

The Public Trustee is experienced in estate administration, with in-house estate managers, accountants and solicitors, and hires outside experts when required.

To find out more about our service, refer to the Deceased Estate Administration brochure.

Contesting your Will

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Before excluding someone from your Will who is eligible to bring a claim under the Family Provision Act 1972 (WA), for example, spouse, son, daughter etc, please consider how your action can cause unintended problems for your loved ones. 

Such claims can cause major delays, expense and distress because the estate can't be fully distributed until the dispute is resolved. There can be legal costs incurred by the executor or administrator, the person bringing the claim and the other beneficiaries, and the estate may end up paying some or all of those costs, which can be substantial, even if the claim is resolved at an early stage.

Wills can also be contested in other ways, including saying that the Will isn’t valid because the person was forced into making it, didn’t know what they were doing and/or didn’t have enough mental capacity.

Page reviewed 15 October 2020