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Legal Matters - Dec/Jan 2021

The importance of a last will and testament

The importance of a last will and testament

"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibilities.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt.

Many people postpone the drafting of a last will and testament because they do not have time, or do not want to be reminded of death. Very often they don’t see the need to pay a legal practitioner or financial advisor to render such a service.

A will is one of the most important documents a person will ever sign. It is a legally binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. If you die without a will, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out. Having a will is crucial and well worth the time and energy spent in creating the document.

After you die, someone needs to administer your estate. You can use your will to name an executor to take on this task. Without a will, it could lead to potential delay to first sort out who should be appointed as executor. It is important to make sure that your children are in the hands of someone you want.

If you die without a will, then there is no opportunity to select guardians for any minor children you may have. The surviving parent will usually get sole legal custody if one parent dies, but it could be a problem if both parents pass away simultaneously.

Without a stipulation in your will, your children may not receive the amount you wished them to receive and there will be no opportunity to provide a trust for them after your death.

You may have preconceived ideas about your funeral. It is a tough topic to discuss with your loved ones, so outlining your preferences in your will may be the perfect solution.

Certain assets that you may have wanted to keep for your family’s security or for investment purposes, may have to be sold.

You can also use your will to name a trusted caretaker for your pet. Using a will is not the only way to plan for your pet’s care, but it is usually the simplest option.

Without a will, you are unable to exclude or include beneficiaries. Your assets may be distributed to a family member you have never seen or heard of.

The above are potential problems that may occur if you die intestate (without a will). Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. The bottom line is you can avoid a lot of these potential problems by preparing a will ahead of time.

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