Updated: 3 days ago
This is the first blog entry and we will start off by sharing some basics about Wills. Over time, we will introduce a series of blog entries, going into the details on this topic.
A Will helps you set out how your properties and assets (legally known as "estate") will be distributed after your death. Having a Will means that you decide who gets what when you pass on.
Here, we are going to talk briefly about What is a Will? Do I need a Will? What happens if there is no Will? What goes into a Will? What makes a Will valid? Why do I need to register my Will?
What is a Will?
A Will is a document which allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely. You can write your own Will and change it anytime you wish.
Do I need a Will?
Having a Will is essential. It can be as simple or as detailed as you want, depending on how many assets and channels of distribution you have.
The Will holds your instructions as to how you want your assets to be divided when you pass away. It can also provide for who will care for your minor children, your parents, and even your pet. This makes it much easier for your loved ones to settle your estate during the difficult time.
What happens if there is no Will?
Without a Will, the laws of the country or state of your last habitual residence or where your property is situated sets out how to distribute your assets under their inheritance laws. This is known as ‘dying intestate’ and the outcome may not be what you had in mind, and notably if your assets are passed on ultimately to that state or country. You can prevent this from happening by having a Will that reflects your wishes.
What goes into a Will?
A Will usually consists of the following (in bold, the bare minimum):
introductory clause which identifies you and, in certain countries, your executor;
your funeral wishes (optional);
dispositions on who will care for your children, your parents, etc. (optional);
specific gifts of money, property, possessions and other assets;
the creation of trusts for certain property or assets (if your estate is complex);
disposing of the remainder – known as the residuary estate (optional);
administrative provisions, to do with the interpretation of the will (optional); and
execution provisions – the part where you and, in certain countries, your witnesses or the notary public, date and sign.
It can be a very short document or a very long one. The more complex your estate and the more people you want to benefit from it, the longer your Will is likely to be.
What makes a Will valid?
For your Will to be legally binding, you must:
Be above the legal age;
Write, date and sign your Will;
In certain countries, have it signed by eligible witnesses.
A Will can be revoked by a later superseding Will. Additionally, the witnesses must not be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries under the Will.
Why do I need to register my Will?
Now that you have a Will, you probably think that you can just hide it somewhere. But, does anyone know about your Will and where to find it?
How can you make sure that your Will is not going to be lost or 'misplaced'? Did you identify someone you trust amongst your family and friends who actually ensures that your last wishes are respected?
These are the real questions. Otherwise, it may be that you have actually done nothing.
A will that is not registered is like a will that does not exist. More on that in another blog entry.
This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.