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“I’ve Made A Will, So I’m Fine…Aren’t I?”

We often hear the advice that you must make a will…and rightly so. Making a will is vital to ensuring the long-term future of your loved ones. Too often, however, people’s wills are actually unsuitable for their needs. Far too often, those inadequacies and oversights only become apparent after the death of the person who has made the will (called a ‘testator’ if male and a ‘testatrix’ if female). Perhaps, somewhat understandably, many people do not want to think about their own death, or the deaths of their family members, and so rush through the making of wills with the bare minimum time and effort. Nonetheless, for true peace of mind, you must make the right preparations before it’s too late.

04 September 2016
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Just because you already have a will does not mean you can necessarily relax. You must make sure your will meets your needs and desires, which often alter over the course of a lifetime. Situations change. Oversights can easily occur. Check with a professional.

Are you absolutely certain your spouse will take care of your children properly if you die before him or her? (The risks of a surviving spouse acting against your wishes are particularly high in the case of second (or third, or fourth…) marriages, when stepchildren are involved.) Are you sure you would own the house you live in if your spouse died tomorrow? The right will removes any doubts around these troubling questions.

Real life may rarely be as dark and murderous as an Agatha Christie mystery novel. Sadly, however, preparing for the worst is the intelligent option in legal affairs. We all know, for example, divorce can create bitter conflict between people who once loved each other deeply. Similarly, death can change people ethically. The prospect of gaining (your) money, after your death, can lead people you have long trusted to act immorally. Put the legal barriers in place to stop any such transgressions.

Finding a suitable executor is essential. (The executor is the person appointed by the testator or testatrix to carry out the terms of the will.) The role is much more than an honorary position handed to a friend or family member. Difficulties and disagreements can emerge. There might be a probate dispute. (‘Probate’ is a legal process that takes place after someone dies and includes the official proving of a will or, put more simply, the process of establishing the validity of a will.) Your executor should be trustworthy, responsible and calm under pressure. The executor’s responsibilities will include distributing your estate (which is the entirety of your money and property at the time of your death) to the relevant parties under the terms of your will. Don’t risk the financial futures of your loved ones by appointing an unreliable executor.

You have taken the important, and often emotionally difficult, step of making a will. At least you know you will not die intestate (without a will). But don’t assume your work is done. Are you sure you’ve made the right will for you?