Here’s the 8 most compelling reasons why you should make a Will, and keep it current!
If you have been putting off making a Will, because the thought of your own mortality is too much to deal with, then STOP. Think of your family first!!
If you Die without a Will…
1. An administrator will be appointed to your estate. The administrator will distribute your money and your belongings according to state law and will not necessarily know what you want to happen with your estate. When you write a Will, you choose the person who will make sure your property is distributed according to your specific wishes. That person is called an executor.
2. You cannot protect your assets from your spouse’s new partner. It’s unlikely that should you die now that your spouse will not re-partner during the balance of their lifetime. The assets you leave to your spouse will become property of your spouse and then become property of any new relationship they enter into. Your assets could pass from your spouse to their new partner, avoiding your children and other preferred beneficiaries.
3. Your assets may be divided equally among your children. You may not want this to happen. For example, you won’t be able to protect your assets from an adult child’s creditors or the financial ravages of a divorce decree. Or, one adult child may be well off and not need the money while another child really could use some financial assistance. Also, you may have another family member or friend you want to help and, without a valid Will, that won’t be possible.
4. Your grandchildren could miss out. When no beneficiaries have been specified, the law of intestacy provides estate assets pass to a surviving spouse and children often leaving out the generation after. With a Will you can allocate assets to go to grandchildren and you can name a trustee to manage their financial affairs until they are ready to manage on their own.
5. Your step-children may get nothing. Step-children are not recognised by state law as beneficiaries entitled to inherit. A Will, however, can insure stepchildren are not left out.
6. You cannot name a guardian for minor children without a Will. You might end up with people you would not have chosen as guardians for your minor children. With neither parent alive, the grandparents are the natural guardians of minor children, but it may be up to a court to decide which set of grandparents.
7. You won’t be able to minimise the taxes your children or other beneficiaries may have to pay.
8. You cannot leave contributions to a charity or church. Only a Will can specify how your money can pass to your favourite charity.
You will also need a properly qualified and experienced solicitor to assist you in drafting that Will, to ensure it is valid. Forget the “Do-It-Yourself Forms” or the “Free Online Will Kits” that all come under the category of “risking a lot for a little.” These generic “one size fits all” Wills will cause problems down the track, especially if someone tries to contest the Will. Everyone has their own unique set of circumstances which need to be looked at, and addressed, when writing a Will.
For advice and assistance related to making a valid Will, please contact our Wills & Estates Team. A member of our team will endeavour to respond to your enquiry within 24 hours.