We have all been through the experience of having to paint a room, a shed, a cupboard or a house. In all the above situations, there are opportunities to take shortcuts. You can neglect to prepare the surface properly (it’s hard!), or buy cheap paint, or only put on one coat. You could also get lazy about precautions like using masking tape, or forget to clean up once you’re done.
Do any of the above, and you’re likely headed for a disaster.
Writing a Will is the same: taking shortcuts is a mistake. Just like with painting your house, you want to take the utmost care to prevent disasters from occurring. In the case of a Will, taking a shortcut could mean that you are not adequately providing for those that you want or need to provide for.
Avoiding the common excuses
The most common excuse for taking a shortcut when drafting a Will is cost. Just like painting a house, it costs more to do it right. To ensure your house remains in great condition for years to come, you need to invest in quality paint and tools, as well as dedicating enough time to the task (second coats, cleaning up, etc.). Drafting a Will is no different. If you skimp on the process by trying to do it yourself with a cheap Will kit, the result could be an absolute mess. Ask yourself, is the money I’m saving worth the risk to my family? You’ll find the answer is no.
There are a number of other common excuses that people use during the Will planning process. Some assume that they don’t need a Will because when they die, everything will go to their partner anyway. That’s technically not true – you’ll die intestate, which means it will be up to the State to determine how your assets get divided.
Others assume they don’t need a Will because they don’t own enough property. This excuse doesn’t hold water either, because your estate is usually worth more than you think. Even if you don’t have much, there’s still a lot of logistical work that goes into dividing up your assets and figuring out who gets what. A Will can clarify all of that for the person responsible for administering your Estate.
Steering clear of an unnecessary mess
There are a couple of situations where a rushed Will, or a lack of one altogether, can lead to a major catastrophe. Consider if:
you’re part of a complicated “blended family”
you have a family business, carried out either in a partnership or under the umbrella of a company
These particular circumstances will cause the most concern for anyone who is trying to make and draft a good Will. If you’re dealing with one or both of them, your estate planning is sure to be complicated and if you try and take shortcuts, there is no doubt that you will be leaving your family with an unnecessary mess to clean up after you’re gone.
If you are considering taking a shortcut, keep in mind that the aim of a good Will is to pass your assets on to those to whom you wish to benefit, and to do it in the most effective way, without the loss of any asset simply by not considering the effect of what you are doing. Can taking a shortcut lead to you having a good Will? You’ll find the answer is no.
In summary, there is no such thing as a simple Will, and just about everyone needs a little legal help with getting theirs sorted out.
If you have any questions about any aspect of the Will drafting process, please feel free to contact our Wills & Estates Team.