Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. A will can ensure the minimum amount of tax is paid to the state and permits a certain amount of tax planning, unlike in an intestacy situation, where there is no discretion. It is cheaper and faster to administer your estate with a will, rather than an intestacy. Ultimately however, the most important reason to make a will is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are not leaving problems behind for your loved ones when you pass away, the comfort from this feeling is priceless and is the reason that most people execute or create a valid and legally binding will, irrespective of the size of their estate.
A recent query submitted to a national newspapers illustrates the importance of making a will. A step child of their deceased step mother had queried whether they and their siblings were entitled to inherit their step mother’s estate in a situation where their step mother, whom had married their natural father when they were children, had died, without making a will. The answer in short was no. This illustrates the importance of making a will. In this situation, the siblings of the said step mother would inherit her estate and not the step children whom she had acted in loco parentis to, since they were young children. This surely or arguably was not the wish of this woman.
If you don’t make a will in such a situation or in any situation, an intestacy situation arises. This means your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Succession Act, 1965. This may result in relations inheriting your estate, whom you may not have intended to inherit, “family” that you may not have been in contact with for a period of time or aren’t close to, the potentials are unlimited. The nieces, nephews or siblings who you may not have seen in a number of years are now inheriting your hard earned income as they become the unintended beneficiaries of your estate. Situations like this are common and often arise due to a failure to have a valid will executed during your life time, but it is easily remedied by attending with a solicitor, to have your wishes in relation to the administration of your estate set out in writing. You can then set out with the benefit of legal advice, whom you wish to receive a benefit and that such persons are the ones that do in fact benefit.
In addition, you can choose who administers your estate. Without a will, who administers your estate will be dictated by Court Rules. Again, this may see a situation arise where someone you would not have chosen yourself, will be looking after your affairs after your death and who will have access to your personal documents and financial information. Therefore, it is very important that you create a legally valid will to ensure that your estate is left to the persons of your choice and that default provisions are or can be inserted in the event that such beneficiaries pre decease you and that the person or persons who administer your estate, are those of your choosing.
A valid will is especially important when you have minor (under 18) children. With minor children you will need to consider the need to appoint guardians and/or trustees. These are people who will look after your children’s assets until they come of age and who will make decisions about their health, religion, education etc., if both you and the other parent are involved in a catastrophic accident and pass away at the same time for example. You may also wish to set up a trust and appoint trustees to oversee this trust. A valid will enables you to do this.
The benefits and security of having a valid will in place when the time arises are numerous and if you require any assistance in relation to this, please contact Sean Costello and Company Solicitors.