There is often a misconception that wills are made by the older generations to set their affairs in order as they enter later life. In reality, a will is something that every person should have. You never know when your estate will need to be dealt with, and it will need to be dealt with, no matter how large or small. As Game of Thrones star, Ian Glen, recently pointed out, “cheating death is only an option in fiction”.
The purpose of a will is to primarily set out how you wish your property to be distributed upon your death. A will gives your beneficiaries a legal right to their gifts under your will and, if prepared properly, will avoid any doubt or confusion as to how property is to be distributed. Your will also allows you to appoint Executors, who will be the person or people with the legal right to deal with your estate.
Wills are particularly important for parents of minor children. A will enables a parent to appoint Guardians for their children in the event of the death of both parents.
If you should die without having made a will, your estate will pass under the intestacy rules. While the intestacy rules may follow your intentions, the law provides that only specific family members will be entitled to deal with your estate. Such people may not be the most suitable people to deal with such an important task. It is also possible that the intestacy rules could change in the future and will no longer reflect your wishes.
A will gives you the control to decide who deals with your estate. Even if there is little or no value to your estate, accounts will still need to be closed, debts will need to be paid, and your funeral arrangements will need to be dealt with. It is often a lot easier to deal with an estate where there is a will to produce to asset holders, and this can make the task much simpler for your loved ones.
It is possible to make a will at any time, so long as you have the mental capacity to make one. As lawyers, we occasionally find ourselves at the side of a person’s death bed when they either wish to make their first will, or alter their current will. These difficult situations highlight the importance of preparing your will at a time when you are well and healthy, and in a frame of mind to make the important decisions for your family and loved ones.
If you are considering making or altering your will, please do not hesitate to contact our wills and Probate Department who will be happy to help.