Will Writing - Do I need a will?
A will is a written document setting out your wishes regarding your estate after you pass away. You may distribute your assets as you wish under your will. If you pass away without a will, your assets will be distributed to those eligible under the Distribution Act and you will have no say in how your estate is distributed.
A will is an important and powerful document in estate planning. It helps avoid conflict between possible beneficiaries, and you are able to provide for your beneficiaries as you wish. You could also create a testamentary trust in your will to protect your beneficiaries. For example, should you pass away when your child is young, you may not want your child to inherit the assets immediately as they may not know how to handle it and may squander their inheritance quickly.
Your will can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. Detailed wills may include several testamentary trusts, appointments of guardians for minor children and even instructions for burial/funeral arrangements.
In addition to choosing your beneficiaries, you would also be able to choose your executor and trustee(s) when making a will. Thus, you can ensure that administration of your estate will be done by someone you trust and believe is capable.
A question we get asked often is ‘can’t I do it (write a will) myself?’ or ‘I’m still young – I don’t need a will yet.’ The answer to the first question is yes, of course you can write you own will and there is no law preventing you from doing so. However, just as we may know how to cook, why do we still eat out? We know how to use a pair of scissors, but why do we choose to go to hairdresser for a haircut? Having a will drawn up by a professional would ensure that the relevant legal formalities have been complied with so that your will would be enforceable.
A professional will writer would also be able to help you contemplate or foresee potential difficulties or complications and help you deal with those scenarios with a well drafted will. We would also be able to enlighten you on lesser known facts about will writing, for example, did you know that marriage generally invalidates a prior will?
An experienced will writer would also be able to explain the various terminology involved in will writing including terms like ‘executor’, ‘beneficiary’, ‘trustee’, ‘intestate’, ‘trust’ and ‘guardian’. A professional would also be able to guide you on selecting the right person for the right positions. For example, who would be an ideal executor? What is the role of an executor? Who is or can be an executor? What if when the time comes for the executor to act, he/she decides not to or is not capable of doing so? As experienced will writers and estate planners, we can explain the implications of your choices and help you navigate these issues. Taking the role of an executor as an example, the executor of your will is the person you choose to administer your estate. Many people volunteer their children as executor. However, would they be able to carry out their duties while grieving? Would your child be mature enough to administer your estate responsibly? And would your child even know where to begin to untangle and administer your estate? How can you make it easier for your family to cope after your demise?
For those that think they are still young and that wills are only needed by the elderly, we do not believe this to be true. We never know when our time will be up – we only need to refer to recent tragedies to confirm this, for example the airline catastrophes of MH17 and MH370, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. If you are above 18 (and of sound mind) with assets, you can and should make a will.
A will makes it easier for your family/next of kin to decipher your wishes and to carry out administration of your estate. It would also save time and money as it is faster and cheaper to obtain a grant of probate compared with obtaining a grant of letters of administration.
Even if you have a current will, we encourage you to review your will regularly and upon major life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of children or grandchildren and deaths. At Chang Law Chambers, we would be more than happy to review your existing will with you and revise it if necessary, to accommodate your current situation.
We hope that this article has provided some insight as to the need and usefulness of wills. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how we may be of service to you.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you are considering writing a will, please reach out to us for a friendly consultation.