What is a will and why do I need one?
A will allows you to dictate how your assets are to be distributed, who you entrust to administer your estate and, if appropriate, who will care for your young children after your death.
Death is an unpleasant thing to think about. Yet death is inevitable and its consequences must be considered to protect your loved ones from complex legal issues relating to the administration of your estate upon your death. A critical step in your estate planning is to make a will.
Your will must be in writing, signed and dated by you in the presence of two independent witnesses. Most importantly if your will does not meet these basic standards, it may not be valid.
In conclusion, making a will allows you to direct the smooth transition of control over your investments and business assets after death.
What happens if you die without a will?
If you die without making a valid will, the court will decide how to distribute your property. Legislation known as Intestacy Rules set out the steps in this process. These rules may not reflect your wishes in terms of who shares in your estate and in what proportions. The process can be costly and often very complicated. In most of these cases, the person who needs to act as the administrator of your estate (executor) will have to make an application to the court.
Above all, these complications will inevitably incur further expenses. In addition these costs will reduce the value of your estate, which is ultimately available for distribution.
How often should I review my will?
If you have prepared a will, it is important to review your will every year or two. Therefore you can look at the terms of your will in light of changes that may have occurred in your life.
Family and personal changes should prompt you to review your will. For instance marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or the death of others named in your will.
Significant changes in your financial circumstances should also trigger a review of your will. Financial changes may include purchase or sale of property or business interests.
Link to other will and estate planning articles.
Please contact us for specific advice on estate planning, making a will or to review or update your existing will.