Should you write a will?

Date: Jul 18, 2012

Will writing is often one of those things that is put to the back of people's minds - but is there really any point in this part of the estate planning process?

The answer is yes, because writing a will helps to ensure that your loved ones are properly provided for in the event of your death.

Failing to put together this important document relinquishes your control over what happens to your assets, potentially leaving your friends and family with nothing at all.

Procedures are in place if you have not made a will, but the factor you need to bear in mind is that they are not likely to conform to your wishes.

Beneficiaries to the estate will usually be found, but there is no guarantee that they will be given the assets you would have wanted them to receive.

One pitfall that many people come across is that they wrongly believe the state will distribute assets to their closest relatives, which is often not the case.

Even if you are married with children, you still need a will - imagine if you and your spouse both passed away at the same time, what would your offspring do then?

By making a will, you can clearly state who you would like to receive your property and possessions when you die, which includes everything from your home to your car, jewellery to stocks and shares.

However, writing a will is not enough - you must make sure that the document is legally sound for it to be enforceable.

Failing to write a will in accordance with the proper legal channels can lead to estate disputes, which can be especially stressful for your family at an already stressful time.

There are three things you need to bear in mind, namely that the will is put down in writing, signed by yourself and witnessed by two individuals who do not serve to benefit from the provisions you have made.

It is also necessary to appoint an executor, who will ultimately be responsible for making sure all the wishes outlined in your will are met.

Your executor needs to be aware that you intend to appoint them, mainly so you can rest assured that they are comfortable with the decision and intend to keep your best interests at heart.

If you are unsure of any aspect of this process, consult a wills and estate lawyer for advice specific to your needs.