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Not making a will is folly for more than one reason. If you don’t already have one, here is some food for thought which might just spur you on to move the important, but not necessarily difficult, task of making a will to the top of your to do list.
If you are not married to your partner, even if they share your home for a significant amount of time, they may have no legal recourse to it if they don’t jointly own it with you and you don’t have a will. It will go to your children, parents, siblings or even the state ahead of them.
Even if you are married, there can still be problems. The story of actress Natascha McElhone is a cautionary tale for us all. Although married when her husband sadly passed away, because he did not leave a will the laws of intestacy were applied and sorting out the estate was made much more difficult. When this happens probate becomes a much more lengthy process lasting many months, and sometimes years. In this case, the actress managed to save her home but others have not been so lucky and have been forced into selling their homes so the estate can be distributed according to intestacy laws.
You don’t have to look too far to find depressing examples showing how loving families can be torn apart by a family member failing to make a will. The case of Bob Marley is one of the most famous. The reggae star died of cancer at the age of 36 leaving a legacy of millions but no will – his Rastafarian beliefs forbade him from believing in death!! In the fallout that ensued his widow and mother fell out and the court-appointed administrator of the state is reputed to have tried to evict his mother from a house Marley had given her. No-one likes to think of their nearest and dearest falling out after their death – having a will is one way to make clear exactly who you want to get what and stop the squabbling.
With no will to protect their interests, your partner or your dependents might find themselves having to hire a lawyer to contest the laws of intestacy and we all know how much they can cost. In these cases, which are often extremely complex, results cannot be guaranteed and can drag on for lengthy periods with inevitable emotional, as well as financial, costs.
For most parents, the welfare of their children is a primary concern. It follows that setting out in writing who you would like to have legal guardianship of your children is of huge importance and yet many parents omit to do so. If both parents die without designating a guardian it falls to the courts to make this decision. Not only is there the risk that they will not choose the person you would have, but the process is undoubtedly stressful for any children unfortunate enough to go through it. The situation is entirely avoidable simply by stating your chosen legal guardian in your will.
Most of us would rather minimise the proportion of our estate which goes to the taxman. A will is a very useful tool in estate planning and you can use it to ensure as much of your legacy as possible is passed on to the people you wish to benefit from it. This is a specialist area requiring solutions tailored to your own particular situation and for that reason, we would always advise seeing a specialist to talk through your options.
Many people avoid making a will thinking that their estate is not large enough to merit one, or that their spouse and children will automatically inherit. Neither argument is valid. There is only one way to ensure that your dying wishes for your estate are adhered to, and that is by making a will. Get it sorted and set your mind at rest that should the worst happen, none of the nasty consequences above will happen to those you leave behind.
Estate planning and having a valid will is an important part of sound financial planning. Infinity works with a number of partners specialising in providing wills for expatriates. If you woud like to arrange a feee, no obligation consultation please get in touch.
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