Is a Last Will and Testament (a.k.a. “Will”) important?

A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is a legal document left behind by a deceased person. Its contents gives instructions on how the deceased would like their assets divided, who should take care of minor children, and who should be in charge of distributing assets. Many know that having a Will is important, but do we fully understand the reason why. If you pass away without a valid Will intact courts will step in and make decisions for you. They will decide on the future of your children and who will act as their Guardian. It may not be who you would want or who your children would want to be with. Furthermore, a court would decide who will be named as your executor. An executor (a.k.a. administrator) is the person who will make decisions on how to dispose of your assets. Without a valid Will you will give up control of who should inherit your possessions and who will look after your children. Making a Will is the only way to make certain that your wishes are carried out. Also, if you do not have a valid Will, it is a possibility that it may take longer for your family to finalize your estate, during this delay your beneficiaries may not be able to withdraw any money from your estate. This may cause stress in addition to the pain of losing a loved one that may lead to distress and arguments among relatives.

If you are married, do not assume that your spouse will automatically inherit everything. Other family members which could include parents, siblings and children could have a claim on your estate. If you are living as a couple but not legally married, you may be treated as a single person and the surviving partner may not receive anything at all from your estate. If you created a Will a long time ago, it most likely needs to be updated to include subsequently born children or grandchildren or to remove persons you no longer wish to manage your affairs or receive your assets. Whatever your situation may be, if you prepare ahead of time, there shouldn’t be any question how you would like your estate divided and who you wish to take taken care of your children. Making a Will can give you peace of mind by knowing that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of after you have died.