A Will is a written document with your instructions on how your property and assets will be distributed upon death. For people with minor children , it may contain instructions on who will take care of the children and who will make financial decisions for them until they are old enough to manage their affairs.
The issue of the division of the assets can become even more complicated in blended families. A Will is the only way you can ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after your death.
Most people know that they should make a Will before they die. Some people are afraid that they are going to die as soon they make a Will, but ironically, the majority dies without having a Will.
Myself, I had a Will drawn when my daughter turned 3 years old. My daughter is 10 now, the Will is still valid, and I have the peace of mind that when (not if) something happens to me, my family will be taken care of.
To make a Will, you must be mentally competent. Anyone over the age of 19, or if under the age of 19 and married, should have a Will prepared.
Please note that, currently, upon marriage, your Will becomes void unless you have stated in the document that your Will was made in contemplation of marriage to a specific person. There are also other reasons that a Will can become void. For example, if a Will is not executed properly, it can be void. The best way to ensure that your Will is valid is to ask a Notary or Lawyer to draw it up for you.
There are a number of reasons why you should make a Will as soon as you can:
- To protect your loved ones. Making a Will is the only way to be certain that your lifetime’s work and assets are passed on to the people you have chosen. It provides security for your family and those you are responsible for.
- To ensure the smooth transfer of assets. Having a Will enables your assets to be transferred smoothly upon your death. You need to prepare a detailed list of your assets, as well as of your personal goals, before putting your plan in place.
- To secure your children’s future. If you have children, you may wish to nominate guardians and make arrangements for their care and education.
- To provide for your children in a blended family. If you are currently in your second marriage, you need a will to protect the members of your new family. A marriage generally invalidates any will made prior to the date of the marriage, so unless you have a new will including reference to your new family, your new family may not get the protection you want.
- To revise your wishes after a separation. Although marriage makes your will void, it does not work the same way with a divorce. Your former spouse can still inherit your estate, as a divorce does not automatically terminate a Will.
- To facilitate Estate Planning. In the event that you die without a Will (Intestate) your estate will be disbursed to your heirs in accordance with the Intestate Succession Rules. Unfortunately, many individuals believe that if they die without a Will their estate will simply pass to their spouse. While a spouse and children will likely end up with the estate’s assets, it may not happen exactly as you would have intended.
Testator/Testatrix: The person who is making the Will
Executor/Executrix: The individual or individuals appointed in the Will to carry out the instructions contained in your Will
Guardian: An individual who is appointed to look after your minor children
Beneficiary: A person named in a Will who will receive a portion of assets under the terms of the Will
Bequest: A gift of personal property