Here are 10 easy points to help make drafting your will a painless procedure and give a fond farewell to your loved ones:
1. Decide who will benefit
Your spouse or children will not always inherit everything if you die without having written a Will. Also, unmarried or single-sex couples have no automatic legal rights of inheritance. If you are leaving money to your children, consider whether you want them to inherit when they reach 18 years old or a later age.
2. Who will act as executor and deal with the winding up of the estate?
You can let the main beneficiary act. But if you are not confident that he can act for you, you should think about appointing a Trust company to provide professional guidance in winding up the estate. It is usually more expensive but the job of administering the estate may get done more quickly and efficiently.
3. Who will act as guardians of any minor children?
If not appointed in the Will, your children could be placed with someone who is not your first choice as guardian. Guardians may also control the children’s trust fund, but it is often better to have the executors act as independent trustees. This is to balance the guardians’ short-term view of the children’s immediate needs against a long-term investment plan. In making the appointment, you must also ensure that executors and guardians work together for the benefit of the children rather than fighting between themselves.
4. Gifts of money
If you so desire, you can decide how much you want to give to friends, wider family or organisations.
5. Gifts of property
If you want to leave a specific item, a proper description is needed to identify it. A vague reference to ‘a china tea-set’ will not do – the make or pattern must be stated. Remember that if you sell or break the item the gift will lapse.
6. Gifts to charity
Any charity benefiting under your Will must be properly named and you must include its registered address.
7. Special circumstances
If you have been divorced, have children from a previous relationship or any legal obligation to maintain someone the person writing your Will should be made aware of this. Also tell him if any beneficiary is in exceptional circumstances, such as a child with special educational needs. Trust clauses may be needed to protect them.
8. You won’t need
A formal valuation of your assets is unnecessary, although you should have a vague idea of your worth.
9. You will need
Take along the full names, identification numbers and addresses of all beneficiaries, guardians, executors and anyone else you want mentioned in the Will. Obtain the consent of guardians and executors before you appoint them. Divorce documents or agreements over maintenance can be useful, so take them just in case.
10. Pick up the phone
Any lawyer can draw a basic Will, but you could need better resources from specialist will-writing companies such as Rockwills Corporation. Most will give a quotation of fees and have your will ready for early signature.
Buying a house, marrying or having children are all trigger points for making or reviewing a Will, whatever your age. Most people see it as a preparation for death, but in reality it is the best protection you can buy for your family.
For more details or consultation in Penang, southern Kedah or northern Perak, please do contact this writer here.