Most of us don’t want to think about dying and a time when we are no longer here. Putting your financial and property affairs in order, however, is important and can save those left behind a lot of heartache and legal problems.
According to Which?, more than half of us don’t currently have a will at all. You might be forgiven if you are young and full of life – the truth is that none of us knows when we’re going to exit this world.
It’s not just everyday folk, however, who haven’t made that important will. High-profile stars such as Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendricks and Kurt Cobain either had none made or an incomplete one that hadn’t been updated to reflect their true wishes.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
The technical term for this is dying intestate and what it essentially means is that the state decides how your assets are going to be divided. They will nominate an individual to administer your estate and act as executor. This may well be a member of the family but, even if this is so, settling your assets could take years, especially if someone contests what has been decided.
If your family is non-traditional, things can be even more complicated. If you have been cohabiting and have children, the surviving partner does not have an automatic to inherit your estate as they would if married. Stepchildren can be another problem area if a provision is not made for them. In certain circumstances, your estate could end up being given to a previous spouse or even your parents rather than your current partner.
The more assets you have and the bigger your estate, the bigger the problems can be if you die intestate. There is an increased likelihood of disputes arising and that can mean people taking legal action and a future where the settlement of the estate is tied up in the courts.
You could also end up with parents suing their children because the state deemed that the estate should go to them.
Making a Will is Easy
When it comes to legal documents and proceedings, making a will is probably the easiest to set up and put in place. It usually consists of a few pages of legal language that includes who you want to be executor after you die (the person who physically settles your estate on your behalf) and where you want your assets to go.
The will is signed by you and then witnessed by two individuals. Once this has all been done, the will can be stored safely and produced when you pass away.
Can I Change My Will?
Wills are not written in stone. If circumstances change later on (perhaps because a family member has moved away or you get divorced), then you can amend or even completely change your will if needed. It’s important to do this as soon as possible if you think it’s necessary and not put it off.
The benefit of having a professionally written will is that it gives you complete peace of mind and ensures that your loved ones can easily settle your estate.
The number of people going to court is increasing and much of this is due to loved ones dying intestate. Whether you have few possessions to leave or a complex estate, having a professionally drafted will prepared a few hours of work with a solicitor now could potentially save a lot of heartaches, inconvenience and argument after you pass away.