It’s one of those things that we all know we should have but never get round to putting in place. Life gets busy and to be honest we don’t like thinking about what might be once a loved one has passed away but honestly will’s really are one of the easiest things to put in place.
Starting with a simple version doesn’t take much, and doesn’t need to cost a lot, either. They really do deserve a higher place on our priority ladder and to be honest, it also feels pretty good to have that box ticked off once and for all.
Here are some points that might make you consider getting a will:
What happens if I don’t have a will?
Not having a will can not only complicate things but it can also turn into a legal and financial minefield for the people left behind who are grieving. Here are a few facts from Mike Ireland, a lawyer who has practised estate planning for more than 20 years.
Fact 1# Any jointly owned property you own (a bank account or a property) passes to the surviving co-owner. But it has to be in both partners’ names.
Fact #2 If you have $15,000 or less in savings or investments per institution (such as a bank), an “informal” administration of your estate can still occur without a will. But typically without a will, you die “intestate”. This means two things:
- There’s no one to carry out your wishes (“execute your estate”). Figuring out who should do that gets complicated and expensive.
- No one can tell for certain (at least legally) what you would have wanted to happen. Your final wishes might be carried out, but they might not, and this can create problems.
If you find yourself thinking you don’t need a will because joint property will all go to your partner and kids anyway, you may want to rethink. An estate can be challenged, especially when there’s a fair bit of money at stake – it’s human nature. And of course, disputes always result in legal fees that eat away at the value of the estate.
It’s fair to say that having a will might not necessarily deal with any claims against an estate, but a well-drafted and considered will can certainly be an effective shield against many claims. It can also get extra complicated when you’ve had multiple relationships throughout life, as often happens in our modern day. A will comes in handy to make sure everyone’s kept happy or at least obligations to them are met.
So in short to make sure your loved ones are protected, and that your wishes are carried out, having an up-to-date will is a must.