Do I need a will you ask, the simple answer is generally yes its a good idea to have a will especially if you have children or if you have assets, however, lets first delve into a bit of background.
What is a will?
The official name for a will is a ‘last will and testament’, however it is most often referred to in general conversation as a ‘will’.
A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding any assets you own, and the care of your children should you pass away.
In a will, you state how you would like your property and possessions distributed – you can specify who, amongst your family and friends, receives what – helping to reduce potential legal and financial difficulties. You can also state any charities or other organisations that you would like to leave money or property to. If you have children, a will is particularly important as it sets out who you would like to care for your children if you should pass away. Without a will, it would be up to the courts to decide who cares for your children.
Why do I need a will?
A will is important as it can save a lot of stress for the people left behind should you pass away.
If you have a will then you can be sure that your assets and property will be distributed as you wish. A will should also contain your wishes for funeral arrangements and whether you would like to donate any body parts for medical or research use.
If you don’t have a will then everything you own will be divided up according to the law. This means that the people you want to inherit your property and assets may not end up being the recipients.
When is a good time to get a will?
As mentioned, a will is important to ensure that your personal wishes are carried out. Some argue that everyone should have a will. We at Lifestyle Solutions believe that there are certain points in life where having a will is necessary:
- If you have children it is really important that you have a will. Typically (but not always) your assets will go to your spouse and then to your children. With a will, you can ensure this happens – or if you don’t want your assets to be inherited this way you need to create a will stating this. Additionally, within a will you can name a guardian for your children. This is particularly relevant if you are a single parent, or if both you and your spouse pass away at the same time.
- If you are married you need to state in your will that your spouse will acquire your assets should you die. This prevents any potential uncertainty. Additionally, if you have any assets that you would like someone else to inherit (other than your spouse) you can outline this in your will to ensure the recipient is legally entitled to the asset(s).
- If you have assets, even without a spouse or children you should have a will in place to ensure that these are distributed as you wish.
How can I prepare a will?
In the modern world we live in, there are a few different ways you can prepare a will.
- Use a local lawyer or trustee company. Using a lawyer or trustee company can help to ensure a will is legally correct, which can protect it from being challenged. Using a lawyer can be a more expensive option, however you will be safe in the knowledge that your will is prepared comprehensively and correctly; and that your exact wishes will be followed.
- Use an online platform. This can be a more cost effective option as there are upfront set prices given for different will types and you do not need to pay the hourly expenses of a lawyer. Some law firms also now offer an online option, where you can begin the process via an online form which can save on lawyers fees.
- Create a ‘home made’ will. There is no law that states you need to have a lawyer or company to create your will. It may certainly seem appealing to create your own will however, these types of wills are far more open to being challenged which can cause those you leave behind unwanted stress and costs.
Remember – all wills need to be signed by the owner, and witnessed & signed by two non-beneficiary adults to ensure they are valid.
Wills vs Trusts
A will and a trust are similar in the sense that they are both estate planning tools however there are some important differences.
- When an asset is transferred to a trust, it is legally owned by the trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary. In a will, the asset is transferred to the beneficiary (which occurs upon the death of the will creator).
- A will becomes active after a person is deceased, a trust is active from the day it is created.
- A will must always go through a process called ‘probate’ where the executor applies to the high court to get the will approved. This can be a lengthy process, particularly if a family member contests something in the will. A trust is not required to go through probate and cannot be contested.
- A trust can be a more complex and expensive process than a will, but it can be useful if assets are to be inherited by minors and need to be carefully managed before and after the original owner’s (settlor’s) death.
So do you need a will? Lifestyle solutions believe that knowledge can help us to make sound decisions for ourselves, and for our loved ones’ futures. Alongside a will, it is important that you protect your loved ones in the event of your passing. We provide tailored plans and insurance products that are customised and specific to your individual requirements. Contact us for individually tailored lifestyle solutions.