It is important that an adult who owns assets, whether real or personal property should have a Will.
A Will is essentially required for two reasons:
If a person dies without a Will, his or her estate will be distributed to the next of kin in the manner prescribed by law. The law is complex and the next of kin do not always receive equal shares of the estate. For example, if the person is survived by only by a spouse, their spouse will inherit their estate entirely. If the person is survived by a spouse and children, depending on the size of the estate, their spouse may not inherit all, but the estate shall be distributed among the spouse and their children. The spouse will be entitled to one third of the estate approximately and the rest will be distributed equally among the children.
The matter is complicated further if there are more than one spouse or domestic partner.
The share which they shall inherit will depend on the length of the relationship and whether they are a registered spouse or not. And if the person died leaving no spouse but children, then the estate will be distributed among them. Children may include step-children. If there is no spouse nor children, then the estate will be distributed to the parents, and if there is no parent, to the siblings and so on.
A Will should prevent the estate from being transferred to the unintended beneficiaries by clearly stating who shall get what.
For those who inherit property from their family and wish to preserve their assets within the lineage, a Will would effectively transfer the asset to the intended heir even though the person died leaving a spouse.
For those who are married or have a domestic partner and wish to give all their assets to his or her spouse, his or her intention may not be followed if they did not have a Will.
A Will also provides a source of income and support for infant children and for the appointment of legal guardians.
For those who are not married, a Will would help to avoid a family dispute among children or extended family as it would state who gets what. Dispute over distribution of a deceased estate can be costly and the costs are to be drawn from the estate. A Will would help to avoid unnecessary costs to the estate.
A person who thinks that you have an obligation to provide for them during your life time may claim a share in the estate. This could be a spouse, children who are dependent on you and who have not been adequately provided for through your life or under your Will. A Will which clearly states the reasons why these persons should not take a share in your estate would help to reduce dispute and costs to the estate.
A Will can be contested by a disgruntled beneficiary simply because it was not clearly drafted or properly executed. Again, costs arising from the dispute would usually be born by the estate. In certain circumstances, a Will can be unenforceable because it is not valid.
This list is not exhaustive. It presents only some of the factors for consideration as to why a person should have a Will and why it should be prepared by a competent lawyer.
It takes years of studies and practical experience to draft a good Will. Our years of experience in Will and Probate and broad range of Family Law matters enable us to provide you with legal advice in making a Will and prepare a Will for you.
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