As another year draws to a close, it may be an opportune time to reconsider those resolutions and promises that you made at the beginning of 2011. One resolution that often features on a person’s list is to make a Will or if they have already made a Will to review an existing one. It can however frequently be the case that this is the one resolution that is put on the long finger and usually tends to be overlooked. If you are one of those people who made this resolution this year and have yet to fulfil it then perhaps before the end of this year you may try to implement this resolution.
For those of you who have never previously made a Will here is some advice on the information that is generally required when you are making a Will.
Firstly, it is usual that one appointment only is required to make a Will unless complicated taxation issues arise. In those instances it may be necessary to consult with a taxation adviser. However, as a general rule your Solicitor will be able to advise you fully on the inheritance tax implications of the proposed terms of your Will.
In making your Will you will be asked to identify your Executor. The Executor is the person who will implement the terms of your Will after your death. This is the person who will consult with your Solicitor for the purposes of proving your Will. In effect, this means that the Executor will complete all the necessary paperwork to allow for a Grant of Probate to be taken up from the Probate Office which is the legal document required to give effect to the terms of your will. You may appoint more than one Executor if you so wish. You will need to be able to confirm to your Solicitor the name and address of your Executor. It is important to note that an Executor may also be a beneficiary under the terms of your Will. (A beneficiary is the name given to a person who benefits under the terms of your will). Your Solicitor will recommend that an Executor should be a person who is the same age as you or is younger than you.
Your Solicitor will then ask you to set out how you wish to deal with your property. It is important to note that property may be dealt with generally as in one bequest in which you leave all your property to one person or a number of named people. Conversely, you may wish to be specific and itemise individual properties to be left to various beneficiaries. It is always important to have the name and address of the beneficiaries included in the event that there may be any doubt to the identity of the beneficiary.
If you are the parent of children under the age of 18, then you will be encouraged to make a Will which names guardians to look after your children on a day to day basis in the event that both parents die together and in addition in your will you will appoint Trustees who will look after your property for the benefit of your children until they reach a nominated age. The names and addresses of the Guardians and Trustees will be required and it is always important to ask those people in advance that you wish to appoint as Guardians in your Will if they are willing to take on that responsibility in the event that it becomes necessary. It is also important to be aware of the fact that the Executors, the Guardians and the Trustees as named in your will may in fact be the same people fulfilling three different roles under the terms of your Will.
If you have already made a Will then it is always important to review the content of your Will at least every five years and always after a life changing event within your own family. If you have made a Will as a single person and you subsequently marry your marriage will automatically revoke your existing Will.
A Will can be changed at any time by you once you are competent and able to do so. It is also a great relief to a person to have made a Will if it is something that you they have being considering for some time and simply have not attended to. The importance of making a Will cannot be stressed enough because it allows you as the owner of property to set out exactly how you wish that property to be distributed on your death and it provides certainty and clarity for your family. If you choose not to make a Will then the rules of Intestacy as set out in the Succession Act of 1965 applies. These rules set out how property is to be distributed amongst your next of kin.
This article is not intended as an in depth analysis of the requirements to make a valid Will. Those requirements will be outlined to you by your solicitor and any queries or concerns that you have will be addressed by him or her. The purpose of this Article is really to remind people that making a Will is not an onerous task and can be a source of great peace of mind once the task is accomplished.
Is it time now to fulfil that resolution?