Estate planning is like raising a child. Once you realize how important it was, it’s often too late! Proper planning ensures that the remains of your estate are dealt with according to your wishes, and more importantly it protects your most valuable assets; and peace of mind for your family and loved ones. There are a number of ways to protect your estate, but creating a Will is usually the most straightforward. When the time comes it will have the most tremendous impact on your executors (persons or entities in charge of administering an estate) and beneficiaries (those named to receive a beneficial interest in your estate).
After years of planning and discussion, the government implemented the Wills, Estates and Succession Act in March of 2014. This was crucial as there were substantial changes made in the legislation to modernize the law and the overarching area of estate planning. When someone dies without leaving a Will, this is what’s referred to as intestate. Some of the key changes are in the area of intestate succession. What problems may arise on intestacy, and how does leaving a Will help? If the wishes of the deceased are not formalized in writing, this leaves the door open to uncertainty. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and more often than not, opinions clash. The last thing a family wants to be involved in after losing a loved one is an estate dispute or litigation. By leaving a well drafted Will, the deceased has eliminated a good portion of the uncertainty, making the administration of his or her estate a more streamlined process.
The first step in estate planning is realizing that you need to have a plan. The second and equally important step is taking action and putting that plan in place. One common mistake that has haunted families in the past is trying to save a few hundred dollars on the drafting of a Will today, only to have relatives spend tens of thousands on estate litigation in the future. There are online template and services that will provide you with a written Will for a fraction of the cost. These should be used with caution as they are cookie cutter templates that do not reflect the testators (person leaving a Will) wishes or best interests. It’s the equivalent of buying an article of clothing online that doesn’t end up fitting…except there’s no return policy, and it’s been left for your relatives to deal with.
In short, a lawyer (or seamstress if we’re building on the above analogy) will be able to draft a Will for you that will best represent your interest so that your family isn’t left with uncertainty. Coherent and definite, your Will should leave nothing to question. Spend the time today, so that your family doesn’t have to pay in the future.