A guest post by Jonathan Green, Solicitor, MGR Solicitors
Yes, the title of this article is a bit crass; perhaps even considered a little rude, and is most definitely stating the obvious; however, it’s probably one of the most understated pieces of advice that we can give: get your Will done before it’s too late.
All too frequently we’ve seen the consequences of somebody’s loved one passing away without a valid Will. This can leave those left behind in a very unpleasant situation, can cost the estate far more money to be administered than it should, can lead to disputes, and can lead to ridiculous results when it comes to the distribution of the Estate assets.
There’s usually a few common explanations as to why people don’t get their Will done. What are they, and what do we reckon about them?
Reason 1: I don’t have anything to leave anybody
Actually, you probably do. Have you had a job before and were allocated a superannuation fund? Chances are you’re worth a fair bit after you die due to a standard life insurance policy that comes with your superannuation, and while not necessarily distributed in accordance with your Will, we can explain these entitlements to you and how to best deal with these.
Reason 2: It’s too hard to decide what to do
This is a common reason why doing a Will is a job left undone for such a long time. Sometimes you may have a tough task deciding to whom you should leave your Estate, or have a rift in your family that makes it emotionally tough to go through the process of making a Will.
We are highly trained and experienced in talking through these issues with our clients. We won’t put you under pressure to draw up a Will you don’t like; however, we can walk you through the various scenarios and advise you on your legal obligations as a Willmaker to help you make the best decisions and make a Will you will feel comfortable with.
Reason 3: I’ll just let everyone else worry about it once I’m gone
This is certainly not the most helpful of attitudes and we’d change that about the person in question if we could, but some people are just inclined this way. However, if this is you, we politely yet firmly urge you to reconsider (keep reading to find out why).
Reason 4: I’ve been meaning to, but I just get too busy….
We get this. Life is busy. However, what we’re dealing with here is pure procrastination (not to be too judgmental). Bottom line here is that you need to swallow the frog and get your Will done. We can make it an easy process for you.
So why is it a good idea to get your Will done ASAP? Here are a few reasons:
1. Your Estate assets will go where you actually intend
If you leave it to chance and die without a Will, your assets will be allocated in accordance with a set legal formula. This means that your spouse or other loved ones might be short changed and be left in a precarious financial position, or your children might miss out, or somebody you dislike immensely may become a major beneficiary of your Estate (lucky for them). Not only can the assets go where you wouldn’t have wanted them to, these kinds of situations also lead to big, nasty and expensive fights among family members over who gets what – a good estate planning process can go a long way towards avoiding all of this unpleasantness.
2. It will reduce the strain on loved ones
From where we sit, seeing the loved ones of those who have died without a Will stressing out, ringing every law firm in the district or turning the house upside down trying to find out if they on the off-chance happened to leave a Will somewhere, and the uncertainty of what will happen next, is a powerful motivator for us to put the message out there for you to get your Will done.
It’s very stressful and time-consuming for the person left with these concerns, and all of this worry and running around will need to be done during a time of deep mourning. This is not a good thing.
3. It can be a total disaster for any business that was owned by the deceased
If the deceased operated a business, not having a Will can spell disaster. Trading bank accounts may be frozen until Administrators of the Estate are appointed (this can take months), and special orders may need to be obtained to let family members step into temporary control of the business. In some businesses, even a single day of this type of inconvenience can be a total financial disaster and potentially place the business, employees of the business, and trading partners, into serious jeopardy.
4. It makes it far more expensive to administer the estate
The legal work required to administer an estate where there’s been no Will left is usually double that of an Estate where a valid Will has been left. This means double the cost. We really don’t like doing any more work than we need to, and your family won’t like having to pay double the legal fees.
Really, it’s your call whether or not you want to do a Will. We’re just telling you how it is. There’s a list as long as your arm on why you should have a Will, but we need to make this blog article short and sweet.
The good news is that getting a Will done is easy with us. We’re estate planning experts and can talk you through your options step-by-step.
Please visit our website www.mgrsolicitors.com.au to contact us.