Wills and Estate Planning F.A.Q

Information verified correct on December 8th, 2016

Answers About Wills and Estate Frequently Asked Questions

Although many of us do tend to look towards the future in many ways, and take steps for a brighter future by doing things such as saving money, buying a home, working towards a better career, etc, what many of us tend to avoid thinking about is our unfortunate yet inevitable death. Of course, death is a morbid subject that the majority of people prefer to avoid, particularly our own death, but for those who don't want to leave things to chance, it is important to think about how you can protect your loved ones after your death.

Life insurance and providing a secure environment to live are important to ensure the well being of your loved ones. However, it is also important to think about your possessions and assets – you will want to ensure that these are passed onto the people who you would like to have them, and this is where a will can prove invaluable. Your will not only deals with who gets what from your worldly possessions based on your wishes, but also enables you to address other important issues.

Some people think that getting a will sorted out is going to prove to be a complicated process, but it is actually pretty simple and well worth doing. Below are some frequently asked questions that could help you to learn more about wills and estate planning.

  • Is it important to make a will? Making a will is very important, particularly if you have assets and wealth, or even belongings that have sentimental value, and would like them to go to particular people. It is also important to have a will if you have particular wishes that you want people to know about after your death, such as wishes relating to your funerals, organ donation, charitable donations, your children, etc.
  • Do I need a lawyer to write a will? Although some people think that you have to have a lawyer to make your will, this is not the case. In fact, you do not even need to have special stationery or anything to write one. There are, of course, a few legalities that you have to adhere to in order to ensure that the will is valid. This includes making sure you sign the will, having two witnesses who are not beneficiaries witness your signature and signing the will, and making sure that your will is in written form, whether it is handwritten or typed.
  • Do I have to be in good health when I write my will? It does not matter if you are ill when you write your will. However, you do have to be of sound mind, which means that you must have the mental capacity to write your will without influence from anyone else. If you are not of sound mind then it is possible that the courts can get involved in helping you to make your will.
  • Can I choose whoever I like to be my witnesses for the will? You need to choose two people to act as witnesses for your will, as they will need to witness you sign the will and will need to also sign whilst they are both present together. The people you choose cannot be beneficiaries or your spouse/partner. It is also advisable not to choose anyone who is closely related to a beneficiary of your estate.
  • What happens if I die without making a will? If you do not make a will and you pass away, you leave an intestacy. This basically means that you have failed to arrange the valid disposal/distribution of some or all of your assets. If this happens, your assets and estate will have to be distributed according to law, which means that you lose any control over who gets what. Those who you wanted as beneficiaries could end up with nothing and those who you did not want as beneficiaries could end up with everything. You also lose the ability to make your wishes known in other important matters such as who should be executor of your estate or what your wishes are with regards to your funeral.
  • Can I provide details of my funeral wishes in the will? By all means, you can detail your wishes with regards to your funeral in the will. However, bear in mind that if your will is not read until after your funeral this could be a mute point. It is always best to let your nearest and dearest know what your wishes are so that you are more likely to get the funeral you want.
  • If I choose someone as guardian for my children in my will is there a chance that they will not be made guardian? Even if you choose someone to be appointed as guardian to your children in your will, the final say will still rest with the courts. However, if you have chosen wisely and appropriately, the courts are more likely to go with your choice.
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