Who Needs a Will?
It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but preparing a will is not just something for Grandparents to think about (although if they don’t have one they should think about it). Anybody over 18 years of age (or under 18 and married) can have a will. While you may have a long life ahead of you, there is no harm in being prepared for the worse, lessening stress if the worst should happen.
One reason to have a will, before even considering your estate's debt or what your beneficiaries will receive, is to appoint an executor. The executor is the person that is responsible for the administration of your estate. They ensure debts and beneficiaries are paid what they are due or is left to them. By appointing a competent and trustworthy person to be the executor of your will, you can take the burden of estate administration away from loved ones in a time of crisis.
The obvious reason that most people have in mind for preparing a will is to nominate beneficiaries. A beneficiary will receive the money or property of the deceased as laid out by the conditions of the will. This can be individual people or organisations, such as charities. If a person’s estate doesn’t have a will with nominated beneficiaries, the government can allocate your money and belongings. This is based on a calculation and may not result in the allocation that you would have liked to have seen.
As circumstances change, make sure to change your will as necessary. You may want to change the beneficiaries or have acquired more assets. A will with recent details will limit any ambiguity and make the process smoother for executor and beneficiaries.While there are options for you to make your own will, it is advisable to have a solicitor help with it. An estate solicitor can assist with wording to ensure the right beneficiaries receive the right parts of the estate. They’ll also ensure its legality. The assistance of an estate solicitor is another way to avoid ambiguity or even contradiction in your will.
Aside from the payment of debt and division of assets, in your estate, you may want to outline other things. If you have children you can appoint their guardians in your will. If a guardian isn’t nominated in the will, the family courts will decide who will care for the children. It’s imperative to choose somebody with the capacity and want to care for the children and if possible discuss it with them. You can also appoint somebody to look after your affairs if you become unable to. An enduring power of attorney looks after your money and assets, or an enduring guardian looks after medical and lifestyle choices. Both you and the power of attorney or guardian need to sign documentation and have it witnessed by a solicitor.
If you are a business owner, you may want to write a business will. Having a business will specifying buy/sell agreements or who ownership will go to in place will help with a smooth transition after the death of an owner. Seeking legal advice for business wills can help avoid potential taxation issues.
To prepare a will it must be in writing, signed by you and witnessed by two people, such as public notaries. You will nominate an executor or executors and beneficiaries. To keep the will current you can change it whenever you need. You will require the changes to be in writing, signed and witnessed again.
Once a person dies the process of managing their estate begins. If the estate is large or involves property, an application for probate will be required. The probate is the legal authentication of the will and is needed before the executor can start administration of the will. If somebody believes that the will isn’t valid or the assets have been divided unfairly, they can challenge the will in court. Again, limiting ambiguity or contradiction when writing your will can help speed this process. Once probate is received and all challenges are heard the estate can be administered and assets divided.
Realise you might need a will? CM Lawyers have estate solicitors and public notaries that can help you prepare for the worst.