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In today's society, many people are choosing to put off making a Will. Perhaps it's because we're all living longer – you don't need to think about that yet, do you? In fact, making a Will is the most vital thing you can do to protect your loved ones.
A properly drafted Will ensures that you decide who receives your Estate when you die and that all other personal wishes are carried out. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an expensive or difficult process, but many people do decide to put it off. As a result, this can sometimes result in unforeseen and problematic circumstances after their death.
If you die without making a Will, you are said to die 'inestate' and the rules of intestacy apply – these are strict legal rules, and dictate who receives your Estate – the end result may not be what you wished for your loved ones.
Here are the most frequently asked questions when it comes to Wills.
A. Everyone should make a Will. It makes it clear who you would want to deal with your estate and what your wishes are. It is especially important that you make a Will if you have children under the age of 18 or if you own a property.
If you wish to specify that your estate passes to your children, then you can control at what age they inherit to prevent them from receiving "too much too young". It also allows you to make provision for other people who may not be capable of managing money for themselves.
Many people believe that they have nothing to leave. However, it is a sad fact that many of us are worth more once we have passed away, so having a Will can be vital to ensure your estate passes in accordance with your wishes.
A. If a valid Will cannot be found in the event of your death then your estate is distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This may not be in accordance with your wishes and, in some cases, can end up with relatives benefiting from your estate that you have never seen. If there are no relatives, then your estate would pass to the Crown.
If no Will can be found, then this may create problems within your family. Your nearest relatives would have to decide who would deal with your estate. This may mean that relatives not of your choosing have access to your private affairs and become involved in the administration of your estate. There could also be problems if your relatives do not get on causing further stress, delay and costs at what would be a difficult time for your loved ones anyway.
A. Yes, it does. Other countries have strict laws governing how certain assets, such as property, can be distributed in the event of a person's death. It is vital that you take advice from a lawyer specialising in the laws of that country to ensure that your estate passes in accordance with your wishes subject to the laws of that country.
It is possible to make more than one Will to control the assets which may be in different countries. However, it is vital that the lawyer preparing each Will knows about the existence of the other Wills to prevent them from accidentally revoking (cancelling) the others.
Who do you want to deal with your estate? These are known as your Executors.
Who do you want to look after your children under the age of 18? These are known as Guardians.Who do you want to actually benefit, i.e. receive your estate? These are known as Beneficiaries.
Carefully consider what you actually own and the values of your assets? It is also important to consider those people that are dependent on you and if they will be adequately provided for in the event of your death.