What happens if I don’t make a Will?

If you die intestate (term for dying without a Will) then there are a number of consequences. Three of the most serious are;

Firstly, someone must apply to act as the administrator of your estate. It could be your spouse but if you die without a spouse then it could be one of your children, and if no children, then another relative. Your estate could be administered by someone you might not have chosen.

Secondly, without a Will the distribution of your estate is determined by Statute. You spouse might not inherit your entire estate, depending on its size and whether you have children. Nor is there any discretion as to who gets how much of what, when.

Finally, without a Will, there is no authority to act until the Court approves someone to administer your estate unlike a Will where the person you appoint has immediate authority on your death.

Conversely, having a Will deals with these and other problems of not having a Will.

Are there any restrictions on what I can provide for in my Will?

A Will should ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes on your death. However, there are certain Statutory requirements wherein you are obliged to provide for dependent spouses, children and parents. Further, the bequest (gift) must meet certain tests of clarity to be valid.

Are there any tax issues involved in drawing up a Will?

The main concern in drawing up a Will is to ensure you provide for loved ones in a proper and adequate manner. However, reducing their tax burden on their inheritance, if possible, is something that should be part of an estate plan.

Can a person have more than one Will?

Yes, often people make multiple Wills dealing with different types of property, or, in some cases, foreign property.

Is there a difference between drawing a Will and having an estate plan?

Drafting a Will is a detailed procedure whereby your advisor will personally meet with you and discuss your objectives, and draft a Will which is specific to your personal situation after a thoughtful analysis of the relevant Legislation, in particular, succession laws and tax laws.

An estate plan often involves dealing with your assets while you are alive to allow for a more effect transfer or disposition upon your ultimate death. Part of an estate plan is a carefully drafted Will which reflects the estate plan. However, a Will in itself is, in effect, an estate plan.

A poorly planned Will can lead to litigation, expense, and family tension. A well drafted Will, on the other hand, enables your property to be correctly distributed to the beneficiaries and allows the executor to properly determine their course of conduct without having to resort to the Courts. It also ensures that your estate plan is properly implemented.

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