Let’s face the facts: nobody likes to think about their own death, let alone the nitty-gritty details of what will follow as their earthly affairs are wrapped up in their absence. Unfortunately, the truth is that death is not only inevitable but in many cases unexpected, leaving those without wills at the risk of passing away without the opportunity to give their final instructions.
At EGA, we like to reassure our clients with the idea that a will is not a morbid and cold legal document, but rather a powerful tool that allows you to determine first-hand what will become of your minor children, properties, possessions and other assets, even when you are no longer able to enforce your wishes yourself. In our opinions, these are the top 5 reasons why everybody – yes, even you – should have a will.
One: You have the first and last say in how your estate will be distributed
When you break it down to its core function, a will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be divided in the event of your death. If you were to die without a will (also known as dying “intestate”), you would essentially be giving up your chance to say what should happen to the assets you leave behind. Even if you had made verbal agreements with friends and family members prior to your passing, if these agreements are not written down in the form of a will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out.
Two: You can make the administration process easier on your family
The last thing a mourning family wants to do is deal with a lengthy administration process, which is when the Master of the High Court decides who should administer your estate and the law dictates how it should be divided. This process can be very frustrating and takes much longer than having an executor of your own choosing dividing your estate according to your instructions. Leaving clear instructions in your will also reduce the risk of family members fighting over your assets, as is often the case when families feel that assets were unfairly divided by the court-appointed executor.
Three: You get to choose who to leave in charge of your estate
The executor of your estate is the person who is in charge of administering the estate. They will pay off your bills, cancel credit cards and memberships and notify banks and creditors of your passing. They may also facilitate the sale of your assets and the distribution of money and other valuables according to your instructions. When you write a will, you have the opportunity to appoint someone who you know and trust to handle this important job for you. Should you die intestate, however, the Master will appoint an executor on your behalf, who will have to distribute your estate in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act which might be in a completely different way to how you would have wanted.
Compared to other legal contracts, a will is a relatively quick and affordable document to set up, yet it can make a monumental difference to the outcome of your estate and the way it is handled. Although wills are associated with death, we prefer to think of them as living documents, because you are able to edit and adjust them as your life changes and you accomplish certain milestones, like the birth of a child or the purchase of a property. Don’t do yourself or your family the disservice of dying intestate when setting up a will is so easy to do. Contact our Estates department today and let our friendly estates attorney show you how it’s done.