Planning for what happens to your loved ones after your death is not something that many of us care to spend much time thinking about, and some people never actually get around to creating what is probably one of the most important documents of your life.
Talking about wills and probate and making plans to distribute your assets in the most efficient way possible is something you should definitely make time for, followed by arranging to write your will so that these instructions can be carried out.
Understanding what a will is
If you want to avoid the prospect of a family dispute after your death over your last intentions, writing a will is imperative.
Not all of us fully understand exactly what a will is and what is designed to achieve.
In simple terms, a will is a legal document in which you set out who will manage your estate when after your death and how you would like your assets like cash and property to be distributed amongst your family and friends.
You are referred to as the testator in the will and the person who you ask to manage your estate is referred to as an executor.
Writing a will is not just about money. It can also be an important document for declaring who you wish to become a guardian for your children, if they are still minors at the time of your death.
Dying without a will
This is a scenario that you certainly want to avoid and if there is no recognised will in place at the time of your death, you are deemed to have died intestate.
Dying intestate means that you lose an element of control over how your assets are distributed and it could mean that the people you wanted to benefit, end up not getting all or any of their intended entitlement.
Probate is the next step of the legal process after your death and this is the point where assets from the deceased person are passed on to the rightful heirs. If you have no will in place, an administrator might be appointed who is not familiar to you or your family and they will simply make the decisions regarding your property and other assets based on the current laws.
There are not many of us who would intentionally want to create this level of uncertainty at such a stressful and critical time, so your aim should be to ensure that you do not pass away before you have written and executed your last will and testament.
True or false?
There are a number of popular misconceptions relating to the problem of dying without having made a will.
Many of us assume that if we are married, our spouse will automatically get everything passed on to them. This may be the case, but it is dependent on your circumstances and the laws in your country of residence, so it is best not to leave this to chance.
It should also be noted that the government will not automatically take everything you own when you die, and this is only normally the case when there are no know relatives who can be found.
A will is an important legal document and if you want to rest in peace, make sure you have written yours.
Jamie Rogers has worked in the wills department in a busy UK solicitor’s for 8 years. Because so many of the people he sees don’t know where to begin with writing a will he has taken to blogging to share tips and advice. His articles appear on personal finance, eldercare and lifestyle blogs.