What should you tell loved ones when you are in the process of making a will?
Death is an unpleasant topic and is considered taboo in many social situations. This is ironic given the inevitability of death and the constant reminder of it every day in television, movies, books and our own personal experiences.
The reluctance to openly discuss our mortality makes what will already be a difficult time for people left behind, even harder.
Death triggers a series of administrative and legal processes.
To ensure that we make things as easy as possible for our loved ones after we die, it is important that we tie up as many loose ends as possible. First and foremost – make a will and then you should inform all relevant parties of your wishes with respect to your assets and any funeral arrangements.
The most important person who should be advised of your wishes and intentions is the executor of your will. This is the person or persons whom you have tasked to identify, collect and distribute your assets in accordance with the terms of your will.
The job of an executor can be tedious, time consuming and thankless. You should therefore provide them with as much information as possible to ease the burden they will face on your death. As a bare minimum you need to let them know about your will, what is in it, where it is located and the names of your solicitors, financial advisors, accountants, stockbroker, bank, superannuation, memberships and any other investments you may have.
You should ensure that your executors are provided with a list of your assets, where they can be found and where relevant evidence of title can be accessed.
It is important that your executor and family generally are informed of your wishes in relation to whether you want to be cremated or buried and whether you have made any arrangements for organ donation. Many people include these instructions in their will but unfortunately, the will is usually only looked at well after your date of death, too late for anyone to make the necessary arrangements in that regard.
Your Testamentary Guardian
If in your will, you have appointed someone other than your executor, as a testamentary guardian for your young children, it is important that they are able to work collaboratively with the executor of your estate.
You should therefore, also speak with the guardian to ensure that they know of your thoughts and wishes in terms of the ongoing care and education of your children.
The guardian then, will need to be in regular communication with your executor in relation to payment for your children’s education, welfare and extra-curricular activities. It will not assist your children if there is conflict between your appointed guardian and executor.
Money has the ability to bring out the worst in people and family members are no different. To try to ensure that the people whom you wish to inherit your estate are not fighting amongst themselves over why some are getting more or less than others, you may wish to speak to each of your beneficiaries and openly discuss with them the reasons you chose to distribute your estate in the way you did.
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.