Protecting your assets from beyond the grave
A will lets you take control of your assets after death.
THERE'S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT TO GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER ! Act today to protect your assets even when you are no longer in the physical world. You have worked tirelessly during your lifetime to accumulate all these assets so ensure that they are protected and left in steady and capable hands.
How to protect your assets in the afterlife
One of the best ways to safeguard your assets in death is by preparing a will. The task of preparing a will can be daunting because it is filled with doom and gloom and contemplating one’s pending mortality can be hard. You are never too young or too old to prepare a will. If you own any type of assets you should prepare a will. This makes it easier for the family to track your assets.
Do you have a will? Have you updated your will lately? If your answer is no, have no fear, you will get there. Before getting started you should understand more about wills and what information is needed to prepare them.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that outlines last wishes and gives instructions on the disposal of assets (property or estate) in the event of one’s death.
Why are wills important?
Wills are important and should be prepared for the following reasons:
Avoid petty squabbles - Everyone knows that one long lost family member who will come to claim assets that does not have their name on it or that one cousin who insists that they must have certain articles and start the drama to get it. Put an end to that nonsense and clearly outline what goes where and who gets what in your will.
Prepare your family - Not all family members are business savvy. Write a set of directions and leave them behind as a guide. Help them to navigate the waters. Inform them of the necessary actions to be taken to ensure they will have the best outcome in life, especially as it relates to the disposal of your estate.
Tie up loose ends - Plan for the eventuality of your untimely demise. Give instructions on how to conclude outstanding matters such as clearing up any outstanding debts or describing details of where to get cash to pay for your final resting place.
What information is required to prepare a will?
Now that you know the importance of a will, here is some basic information needed to prepare one:
Personal Information – Disclose personal information such as the name, address, contact information, occupation, tax file number, social security number or ID number and relationship of the following persons:
Testator/Testatrix - a man/woman making a will or leaving legacy.
Executor - a person or institution appointed to perform the last wishes of a testator/testatrix.
Beneficiary - a person who gains advantage from a will, trust, pension, or life insurance.
Executor – Appoint at least one executor to carry out your last wishes. An executor can also be a beneficiary of the will and should be capable of undertaking instructions on behalf of the estate.
Pecuniary Legacies –State the specific sum of money or gift that should be granted to a specific person. Make these amounts absolute or a definite sum. In the case of sharing amounts in a specific bank account, disclose the percentage of the sums that each beneficiary shall receive.
Property – Facilitate disposal by determining whether your property (house or land) is held in:
Joint Tenancy - two or more parties that hold a property or estate jointly and each person’s share passes to the other holder(s) upon death OR
Tenancy in Common - two or more parties that hold a property or estate and each person’s share is distinct and separately transferable.
Shares and Other Gifts – Provide a listing of all share holdings, bank accounts and any other gifts such as personal items then determine the appropriate beneficiary for each.
Consult a lawyer and/or a financial advisor who specialises in estate planning – Get professional advice, ensure that all the bases are covered and that the document you are preparing is legally binding. AMC Lawyers offer years of experience in estate planning and can help you with a new will or updating an existing one.
What is the minimum requirement needed for a valid will?
Unless the requirements below are met, a court may find a will invalid. This will result in the estate being dealt with as having no will (ie. intestate).
A valid will:
must be in writing, either typed or handwritten
must be signed by the will-maker or by some other person in the presence of and at the direction of the will-maker
has the will-maker’s signature made or acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses, present at the same time
has at least two of those witnesses attest (witness) and sign the will in the presence of the will-maker (but not necessarily in the presence of each other)
has the signature of the will-maker or person signing at the direction of, and in the presence of the will-maker, made with the intention of executing the will.
What happens if I don't have a will?
If you die without having a will you are said to have died "intestate". This means you will not be in control of who receives what from your estate. This will result in your estate being distributed to family members in accordance with a formula. Worse still if you have no family closer than a cousin then the state government will receive all of your estate and nobody wants that !
Remember a will is important because it protects your assets even in death and gives you a final say in where all your assets are placed. It avoids petty squabbles, ties up loose ends and prepares your family for the inevitable. Do not delay, prepare your will today.