If you die without making a will you run the very real risk of your assets and personal belongings not going to the people you would like to give them to.
This is just one of the many compelling reasons why you really should consider creating a will so that your last wishes can be carried out according to your specific instructions.
Here is a look at some of the key points to consider and what might happen if you don’t have a will when you die.
If you die without making a will
The legal term for dying without making a will is called intestate. This status means that your assets will simply be distributed according to law and your estate will more than likely be left to your legal next of kin.
Dying intestate also means that the people who you may want to benefit from your estate will either potentially get nothing at all or they will have to wait a lot longer to benefit.
Key reasons to make a will
If you decide to make a will you can use what you have to help secure a better future for your children. If you have any children that are under the age of 18, you can choose to nominate guardians in your will, who will make arrangements to provide maintenance payment and meet educational costs if needed.
A professionally drawn and executed will can make a substantial difference in getting the administration of your estate completed in a relatively quick period of time. This means that beneficiaries will not have to wait anywhere near as long to benefit from your estate than if you died intestate.
There are a couple of important factors to consider regarding your will and your marital status at time of death.
You should be aware that marriage automatically cancels out any previous wills that you have written. Make a will if you haven’t already done so or update your existing one to reflect your change in circumstances.
Not everyone gets married these days and if you are living with a partner on a genuine domestic basis, you are considered to be in a de facto relationship in the eyes of the law. If this is your current situation you need to consider making a will because your de facto partner may not automatically be entitled to the proceeds of your estate.
Proper planning for when you are gone
If you have any family business interests that need to be considered after your death, it is another good reason why you should proper estate planning to account for this scenario.
Many people make a mistaken assumption that their will is going to affect assets which are legally owned by family companies or family trusts. You need to take legal advice on how to set up a trust to deal with your shares after your death and take advantage of any legitimate taxation benefits that may apply to your situation.
Leaving your money to the state
There aren’t many people who intentionally leave money to the state government but with so many Australians currently dying intestate, this is potentially exactly what they are doing.
If there are no eligible recipients of your assets then pursuant to the relevant legislation that you reside in, the state could be entitled to keep everything you had.
You only have to scan through reports on the internet and newspapers to come across stories of people leaving large sums of money that go to the government when they are unclaimed. If you are still unsure whether you should make a will or not, read the story about Holocaust survivor Roman Blum, who left an estimated $40m fortune when he died.
There are many compelling reasons why you should make a will and when you do, you can enjoy some peace of mind that your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone.
About the Author
Kate Ecuyer works in a nursing home and hears the sad stories from those who did not prepare. In an effort to help families, she writes about a variety of senior care topics for various blogs.