Yes. This is so even if you think you are not especially wealthy because it is a responsible thing to do. And we all have loved ones we care about.
We believe in the wise saying:-
“Your will is a great way to love your family with the last thing they read from you”.
Here are some great reasons why having a will is important
Reason 1. Your loved ones would be comforted that you took the effort to make things easier for them e.g. minimizing court paper work (Grant of Probate) and savings in legal expenses. You help them by appointing an executor and by stating clearly how your executor should distribute your assets. This helps them in the grieving process.
Reason 2. Parents with children below 21 years of age should consider appointing a testamentary guardian to avoid costly court applications to appoint a guardian in the event of your death.
Reason 3. Your Will can also include gifts to persons who are not your immediate family also and to charitable as well as non- profit organizations. Where there is no valid will, the assets of deceased are distributed according to the Intestacy laws. Some unintended consequences are as follows:-
- You do not appoint who should be the one entrusted to manage your assets.
- You have not selected who should be your beneficiary and how much they should get e.g.
- If you have children, your parents are excluded;
- Step children and illegitimate children are also excluded;
- charitable cause and friends are also excluded;
- If you are unmarried your partner is not entitled to anything.
- No appointment of a guardian for your children under 21 years of age.
Reason 4. Without a will, the process for the Court to appoint your personal representative to transfer your asset will take longer and cost more (aka Grant of Probate/Grant of Letter of Administration). This is because more evidence, documents and time are required to prove probate and obtain the Grant of Letter of Administration. See our articles on Probate here.
Some lessons from unfortunate cases where no will made:
- Single man dies leaving his brother and estranged father. The father has deserted the family 30 years earlier. His brother was not entitled to anything and the father was entitled to the whole estate.
- Parents of very young child perished in a fatal car accident. No testamentary guardian was appointed. 2 sets of grandparents became embroiled in protracted dispute about who should be legal guardians and incurred much legal expense to apply to Court to be appointed.
- Man was going through divorce proceedings but died before the divorce was completed. 50% of his estate went to his wife, instead of 100% to his children.
For assistance on estate planning matters, please contact us to make an appointment.
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