Life's milestones can inspire estate changes

Date: Feb 17, 2012

One common assumption among people under the age of 30 is that they do not need to draw up a legal will for the division of their estate.

When questioned on this decision, common responses will refer to the fact that they feel they have nothing to divide, or no one significant to share their assets.

Other regular views are that the legal system is capable of seeing to the division process by simply liquidating their belongings and delivering a portion to the beneficiaries.

At the early stages of adulthood, people often have possessions which they attach a great deal of sentiment to - with stories of how they were acquired or made making them more valuable than their regular cash price.

Delivering these items safely into the possession of family and friends who will appreciate their value is not guaranteed if the estate becomes subject to a state-appointed executor.

The problem is that without a legal will, the valuable items will be divided based primarily on their monetary value and may even be auctioned off to facilitate the process.

As time moves on and events transpire, the case for estate planning processes begins to come to the fore.

When a career is begun, a partnership formed and property obtained, these milestones serve as a prompt to review the legal will and testament in order to reflect the shift in assets and the needs of any dependents.

This is especially important when a wedding is on the cards, as this is one of several events that can have an impact on an individual's estate.

Because a marriage alters legal status of property and ownership, all previous wills written by the happy couple immediately become invalid.

This means that - in order to avoid an estate dispute - it is a good idea to plan ahead for the big day by drafting a will in advance that comes into effect immediately following the signing of the nuptial documents.

The same level of consideration could also be applied to any children brought into the relationship, with the provision of dependents forming a strong part of the laws surrounding the division of assets.

In essence, drafting a will allows the author to effectively take control of how their belongings are to be treated, rather than leaving it to be decided in their absence.