Life is for living and a part of that philosophy is not wasting time worrying or even thinking about death. However, being responsible and providing proper care for the people we leave behind requires us to confront thoughts of death and think about how we wish to allocate our life’s wealth after we pass on. It might not be comfortable but it’s necessary for many different reasons, which, in commemoration of National Wills Week (Monday 11th to Friday 15th September), we will now be talking about.
1. Protect Your Children
A will provides explicit instructions for the care of your family and, in particular, your children. It not only explains how your wealth is to be allocated to their care – their basic needs, housing, education, inheritance, etc. - but also whom you wish to appoint as guardian in the terrible event that you are taken from them. Making provision for your kids, even after your death, is a fundamental facet of being a good parent and with a formal will signed, you can rest assured that your children will be raised by a loving and trustworthy guardian.
2. Control How Your Wealth is Allocated
If you don’t have a will, you’ll have no control and zero say over how your wealth is allocated subsequent to your death. Your hard-earned savings, family business, prized possessions, family heirlooms, and home – everything you own and have worked exceptionally hard for - will be heavily taxed and distributed among your next of kin by some government appointee.
A will gives you control and allows you to specify in great detail which relative or even non-relative gets what. It ensures that the people who meant the most to you in life get to share in the wealth you leave behind, whether it’s a classic car, a property, or a piece of jewellery.
3. Appoint an Estate Executor
Having a will in place enables you to appoint an estate executor – someone who assumes responsibility for the distribution of your wealth subsequent to your death, ensuring that it all goes according to your plans. This person could be the family lawyer, or perhaps your husband, wife, or child. Without a will, however, the government will appoint a Public Trustee for you and the costs of this, as well as the exorbitant legal fees involved, will only take money away from your beneficiaries. Being subject to government bureaucracy also means that the resolution of your estate could take several years.
4. Give Back
A will doesn’t only make provision for the people you loved in life; it also allows you to give back and to leave behind a legacy that will make a real difference to the lives of many. Whether it’s an environmental, animal, or human cause, allocating a portion of your wealth to charity is a noble gesture that a will can facilitate.
5. Because Death is Hard Enough
Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult, so the last thing any family is going to want to do is haggle with lawyers and deal with government bureaucracy. A will smooths out the proceedings subsequent to your death and leaves no room for needless in-fighting, swindlers, family squabbles, and other such conflicts.