Wills & Estates

Why Do I Need a Professionally Drafted Will?

A professionally drafted Will ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes, and takes pressure off grieving family and friends.

Will drafting

An article we read the other day amplified our already strong view on the importance of not just having a Will, but getting it done properly. 

And by properly I do not mean spending the $29.95 on the Will Kit offered at your local post office. Nor do I mean downloading a free template off the Internet.

I mean taking the time, effort and money (let’s be honest) to sit down with a professional one-on-one who knows not just the right answers but the right questions to understand your individual circumstances and wishes. 

“But I just want everything to go my husband and kids” is a phrase commonly heard. I will use this as my example. 

One of the questions I would pose to that person would be, “What if the worst case scenario occurred and you all died together, say on a family outing?” If this wasn’t answered in a Will and in fact occurred, then that person’s Will would have no beneficiary, causing him or her to die “intestate” and have the law specify what was to occur with his or her assets. 

Another important question for people with two or more children is, “What if some but not all of your children die before you? Would you want your surviving children to share equally your estate or would you rather your deceased child or children’s grandchildren to take equally their parents share?” This is yet another example of a vital question usually forgotten by those who are not experienced in the law of Wills and Estates. 

If a person dies and his or her will does not specify a living beneficiary, then that Will shall result in an intestacy. And if there were relatives a person felt should not be entitled to his or her estate it may be quite possible that some or even all of that person’s estate will end up going to them in accordance with the law. 

A perfect example to highlight the problem of letting the law determine who benefits from a person’s estate is the case of the single adult client, that is a person who is not married or partnered and who has no children. Without a Will the law states that the whole of that person’s estate would be divided equally between his or her parents. 

But what if that person’s parents were separated or divorced, and perhaps had not spoken to one of the parents for years or blamed one for the cause of the separation? Would that person still be happy giving anything let alone an equal share to one or both of those parents? 

Without a professional drawing a person’s attention to such issues, it is easy to forget just how important a properly drafted Will and succession plan is. 

Another issue that arises in home made or Will Kit wills is in relation to the appointment of executors. Every Will must have an executor of or over the age of 18 who is willing and able to act for the length of time it takes to administer the deceased’s estate. 

If a person only appoints one executor and they die before him or her, then this too causes the administration of the Will to become more complicated. Not everyone knows what an executor’s role is. Nor do all people know that more than one, as well as substitute executors, can be appointed. 

Only last week I met an elderly man who had next to no family apart from his brother and his wife who no longer had mental capacity. The only person he wanted and trusted to appoint as executor was his brother, and he wanted to give all of his estate to his wife if she survived him. Although possible, this was not the end all of all the decisions he needed to make. 

He hadn’t thought of a substitute executor. Nor had he thought of to whom he wanted his estate to pass if his wife died before him. Upon being asked this question, he felt torn and at a loss. If his wife did not survive him, he wanted his estate to go to his brother, but thought this impossible as he had already appointed his brother as executor. This thought was incorrect, much to his satisfaction. Executors can also be beneficiaries, a fact uncertain to many. 

Every time a person dies and has a Will that turns out to be incomplete, or does not have a Will, the more paperwork that needs to be filled out by the deceased’s family members and beneficiaries. 

The more paperwork the more time and money required,  which in turn can cause delay and frustration in finalising the distribution of the deceased’s estate. 

A properly and professionally drafted Will is an invaluable asset. Taking the trouble now can save a lot of trouble for grieving friends and family later on. 

For advice about your Will or Estate issue, contact your nearest Tindall Gask Bentley office. You can also start your Will online here.