Frequently Asks Questions: Leaving a bequest

As a Forever Wild supporter, you’ll be invited to participate in special events and activities, such as personalised forest tours or information sessions, hosted by our Senior Campaigners with guest speakers. You’ll also be kept informed with updates from current campaigns.

Who should have a Will? 

Everyone over the age of 18 should have a valid Will. The purpose of a Will is make sure your assets are distributed as you wish. If you pass away without a Will, the law specifies who will receive your assets and it may not be the people and/or causes you would have chosen. 

When should I change or update my Will? 

You should change or update your Will whenever your circumstances change. Some examples are: If there is a change in your relationship such as marriage or divorce; If there has been the death of a spouse, partner or other friend or family member; If there is the birth of a new family member; If you have purchased a property; Before going on an extended overseas trip; If there is a change in your financial situation, such as retirement; and If there is a significant change in health to either yourself or your partner. 

Should married/de facto partners have separate Wills? 

Yes, to avoid unwanted legal complications after one person passes away, or in the case of a divorce. 

Do I need to discuss my Bequest decision with my family? 

Yes, it is extremely important you discuss your decision to leave a Bequest to the Wilderness Society with your family and loved ones. This will help ensure your wishes are carried out. 

Should a solicitor assist me with writing my Will? 

It is advisable for you to organise your Will through a solicitor as it is one of the most important documents you ever sign; you don't want to risk complications or errors which could later translate into further problems with loved ones after you pass away. A solicitor will also ensure your wishes are carried out.

What is the best type of Bequest to leave the Wilderness Society in my Will? 

Ultimately, the decision is yours and we are extremely grateful for whatever you consider to be appropriate. However, we generally recommend a residual bequest. This means that after your family and loved ones are looked after and your debts are settled, whatever is left will come to the Wilderness Society to continue championing the protection and restoration of our natural environment. 

Why should I let the Wilderness Society know if I have left a Bequest in my Will? 

By advising us of your Bequest to wilderness we are able to thank you personally and invite you to join our Forever Wild group. 

Can I leave my property to the Wilderness Society? 

Yes, we welcome property bequests, provided the Wilderness Society is given permission to sell the land and use the funds for campaigning to protect wilderness. Please contact us for further information. 

Preparing your Will 

Making a Will and keeping it up to date is very important. It will ensure your wishes are reflected and avoid any unnecessary burden on your loved ones. Below is a list of suggestions to help you prepare: 

Personal details

Make a list of all your personal details, for example: 

  • Date of birth
  • Birth place
  • Religion
  • Spouse name
  • Marriage date 
  • Children’s names/addresses/tax file numbers
  • Social Security Pension Number 
  • Veterans Affairs Number 
Contact details  

Make a list of all your important contacts, stating their name, address and phone number/email, membership numbers etc., for example: 

  • Executor of your Will 
  • Next of kin 
  • People to be notified of your death 
  • Doctor 
  • Solicitor 
  • Accountant 
  • Superannuation Life Insurance Policy 
  • Financial advisor 
  • Bank and account details 
Assess your estate 

Make a detailed list of your significant possessions, for example: 

  • House
  • Jewellery
  • Superannuation
  • Vehicles
  • Insurance
  • Other items of value 

Beneficiaries 

You can choose to share your estate between anyone you like; your spouse, family or friends. You could also leave a legacy (Bequest) to a charity or good cause, such as the Wilderness Society, after your family and friends have all been properly provided for.  

Liabilities 

Your liabilities don’t have to be listed on your Will, but it is a good idea to write them down, for example: mortgages, loans on real estate, bank/other financial institution loans, personal/private loans, credit card liabilities and money owed on private/individuals or to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Decide on the Bequest

You can leave any kind of Bequest in your Will — a share of your estate (residuary), an amount of money (pecuniary) or specific items. Other ways to leave a legacy can be found here. 

Choose your executor 

You should select between one and four people who will be able and willing to ensure your wishes within your Will are carried out. You can choose your bank, solicitor, friends or relatives. In the absence of a suitable executor, the Wilderness Society cannot act as an executor for your estate and we would recommend you get in touch with your local Public Trustee who will be able to help. 

Arrange to see a solicitor 

This shouldn't take long, but it’s important to involve a legal professional to draw it up for you. If all the legal formalities are not correctly followed, your Will could be declared invalid and your wishes may not be carried out. The cost of seeing a solicitor varies depending on who you see, however it is a small price to pay for the reassurance that your wishes will be carried out. 

Personal requirements 

Make note of your funeral arrangements, whether you would like to be buried or cremated and any other specific requests. If you would prefer donations to your favourite charities rather than floral tributes at your own funeral, it is a good idea to state the preference in your Will so your executor can ensure your wishes are carried out.

Keep your Will up to date 

You can update your Will at any time to reflect changes in your circumstances, such as the sale of your house, birth of a new family member or a change in relationships (e.g. marriage, divorce or the death of a friend or family member). Your solicitor can advise you on the best way to change your Will. By adding a codicil (a document that amends, rather than replaces a previously executed Will), you are spared the trouble and expense of having to rewrite your existing Will.

Keep in a safe place 

Keep all these personal papers stored with your Will. Store your Will in a safe place and let your executor know where it is stored. You can lodge it with a bank in a 'Safe Custody' envelope or with a solicitor or trustee company. You may want to send a copy to major beneficiaries, family members and your executor.

Suggested wording 

On behalf of Australia’s wilderness and wildlife, thank you for considering leaving a bequest in your Will.  Below is the suggested wording for your Will. It is not compulsory to use this exact wording, however it will minimise any misunderstandings and ensure your wishes are carried out. 

“I bequeath to The Wilderness Society Ltd. (ABN: 18 611 229 086) for the purpose of fostering and restoring wilderness in Australia (a specified sum), or (specified items), or (the residue of my estate) free of all duties and the receipt of the Secretary or other authorised officer for the time being shall be a complete and sufficient discharge for the executor(s).” 

If you are considering leaving a bequest to The Wilderness Society in your Will, please contact us to let us know so we can answer any questions you may have. For further information on leaving a bequest in your Will to The Wilderness Society, please call 1800 030 641 and ask to speak with our Forever Wild Coordinator or email bequests@wilderness.org.au

Legacy options

Anybody can leave a bequest, no matter the size, that will make a difference to ensuring the preservation of Australia’s stunning natural environment. There are many different types of bequests you can leave to ensure your family and loved ones are looked after and your wishes are met. 

Residual Bequest

If you have family and friends to look after, this is often the best option as it prioritises them first and the Wilderness Society after everything else is settled. 

Percentage Bequest 

Leaving a certain predetermined percentage of your estate to the Wilderness Society ensures the value of the gift reflects the value of the growth of your estate.

Cash gift 

You may designate a specific sum money be given to the Wilderness Society in your Will.  

Specific gift

You may designate a specific item such as personal property (e.g. real estate, artwork, jewellery) be given to the Wilderness Society, provided we are given permission to sell the item to raise cash funds for campaigning to protect wilderness.

Life insurance and superannuation policies

The Wilderness Society can be the beneficiary of a life insurance or superannuation policy (subject to the terms of the policy). There are many other options to ensuring your will meets your personal requirements. Please contact the Wilderness Society for further information on 1800 030 641 or email bequests@wilderness.org.au.