Drawing up A Will
A will is made for the sake of our family members so that after we die they get the benefit of our left over savings, property and belongings. The people who we leave behind and who have rights on a person's property after their death are called beneficiaries. If a person dies without making a will he or she is said to have died intestate.
A written will determine the disposition of your possessions and property after your death. A will is not required by law. However, it is the surest way to make sure your estate is passed on to those you wish to receive it. Without a will the distribution of your estate and assets will be administered according to the discretion of the law. The order for the beneficiaries is as follows if a will is not left: the first is the spouse, then children, followed by the parents, brothers, sisters. If all these people are not still alive, then the more distant relatives are benefited. Any blood relatives can be beneficiaries. If there are no relatives then it goes in the name of a fund and after 30 years the government is benefited with the left over property.
The importance of a will
A will establishes who will benefit from your estate and assets after your death. Here are some good reasons to have a will:
- you decide how your estate will be distributed and to whom. Without this document the law will decide who receives what and how much.
- as an unmarried couple, even same sex relationships, you can ensure that your partner is taken of after your death
- in the case of divorce, you can note whether your former partner is to receive anything
- you can control, to some degree, the amount Inheritance Tax to be paid
A will can be legally made once you are 16 years old. You need to be mentally fit for making a will. For the will, you need to decide upon how you are going to proceed with the dispersal of your estate and make notes accordingly and it needs to be signed by a solicitor. There need not be any presence of a solicitor while making a will but you just need to get the papers signed. There needs to be signatures of two people in the will whose names are not mentioned at all in the will and they need to sign in the presence of a person who makes the will. These two people become the witnesses.
While making a will, the following points should be considered: one can nominate his own heirs. For that, one must satisfy the requirements of the wills act. One can enlist the help of a solicitor for it and he needs to be in clear, simple language. The property and beneficiaries need to be identified properly and clearly divided up.
One should appoint an executor. The executor can be got from the high court but other tan that, you can appoint your will's executor yourself. If the executor dies before your death then there are certain other procedures to be followed by the family members. The work of the executor after our death is to solve everything by clearing the debts; he needs to divide all the property equally without disputes and then he needs to submit all the documents to a solicitor. The entire process takes place within about 9 months starting from the appointment of the executor till handing over the final documents to a solicitor.
When drawing up a will, make sure you do not sit down to describe all your assets, or you will become disheartened and give up; you can leave some out. Just describe the ones you'd like to be inherited by certain people and leave the rest of your estate to a specific heir.
What to include in the will
Before writing your will or consulting a solicitor, it is wise to consider what you want to include in your will. Here are some ideas to think about:
- what is the value of your estate and assets
- who are to be the benefactors of your will
- who are you going to appoint to care for your children, if they are under the age of eighteen
- who are you going to assign as the executor or administrator of your will
You must also be careful not to use ambiguous terms in your will that may be disputed later! Do not leave instructions about your cremation or organ donation in the will either because by the time the will is checked, it may be too late to carry out your wishes regarding these!
Keep the Will in a Safe Place
Once you completed your will, it is in your best interest, and those who are your benefactors, to keep the document in a safe and secure place. Inform your executor and/or family members, where you have placed your will. If you have employed a solicitor, they generally keep the original on file. The original can be given to you if you wish.
Maintain an Up-to-Date Will
Review the will every five years or so, and especially after major changes have taken place in your life. Good examples of life changes include, but are not limited to, marriage, separation, divorce, or children moving out of your house. All such changes must be by 'codicil' or amended to the will, or by establishing a new will.
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