To have a Will is not a death sentence but life is transient. As a man once said that mortality is reality and everyone will die sooner or later, even those blessed with long lives will still die someday with the blessings.
In other words, death is inevitable and like birth, we will all experience it. A Will is therefore a way of controlling our personal properties that we will leave behind after death, and not in anyway an instrument that fast-tracks death.
WHAT IS A WILL?
A will is a legal document that directs the distribution of one’s assets after death. If you die without a will, state law regulates your properties.
Your Will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). If you don’t leave a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on and this might not be in line with your wishes.
10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A WILL
1) You decide how your estate will be distributed: A Will is an enforceable legal 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 intended desires will be carried out. Having a will helps minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determines the “who, what, and when” of your estate.
2) You decide who will take care of your minor children: A will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your minor children. The absence of a Will means the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. So having a Will allows you to nominate the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.
3) To avoid a lengthy probate process: Contrary to popular sentiment, all estates must go through the probate process, with or without a Will. Having a Will, nevertheless, speeds up the probate process and notifies the court how you would like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of “administering your estate”, and when you die without a will (known as dying “intestate”), the court will decide how to divide estate without your input, which can also cause extended, needless delays.
4) Minimize estate taxes: Another reason to have a will is because it allows you to minimize your estate taxes. The value of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
5) You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate: Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because executors play the significant role in the management of your estate, you will want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized (which may or may not always be a family member).
6) You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit: Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals out of their will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will your estate may end up on the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).
7) Make gifts and donations: You can decide to give your estate to charity if you so wish.
8) Avoid greater legal challenges: If you die without a will, part or all of your estate may pass to someone you did not intend. For example, there might be relatives you never intend giving any of your inheritance but are included to benefit from it under the law when you die living no Will behind.
9) Because you can change your mind if your life circumstances change. A good reason to have a Will is that you can change it at any time while you’re still alive. Life changes, such as births, deaths, and divorce, can create situations where changing your will are necessary.
10) Tomorrow is not promised: Procrastination and the refusal to acknowledge death as part of life are common reasons for not having a will. Sometimes the realization that wills are crucial comes too late such as when an unexpected death or disability occurs. To avoid the extra pressure on families during an already emotional time, it may be wise to meet with an estate planning lawyer to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum, before it’s too late.
ADEOYE DAMILARE A. ESQ.
Legal Associate at 1st Counsel Solicitors
And Medical Law Expert