It can be tempting to shirk our own responsibility to leave an up to date and comprehensive will for our loved ones. In the vast majority of cases, we feel confident that our spouse, children, or partner will gradually sort through our possessions and make decisions with which we would have been in agreement.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens the way we think it will, and our loved ones face a significant struggle to sort through the estates we leave behind. What’s more, it risks our wishes not being met – particularly when it comes to the rights of those who are not immediate family members.
Here are just a few reasons why ensuring that we have put our affairs in order, and dying knowing that our loved ones will be provided with our final wishes, is so important.
Our Assets Will Need to be Organised by Someone
We all have a long list of assets that will need to be dealt with after we have passed away. This, of course, will always take some time, but the process gets much slower and more complicated – and, by extension, becomes more of an emotional drain on our loved ones – if we have not left behind a detailed, accurate, and up-to-date account of our assets.
This includes all aspects of our estate, from our money and property to our social media accounts and digital photos.
Disputes Can Alter the Family Dynamic Forever
Simply put, having a will in place makes it easier for those left behind to know ‘who gets what’. And, while it can be easy to assume that our loved ones can manage this fairly and agreeably in our absence, leaving them to it will significantly increase the likelihood of disputes, and once-close family members falling out.
The days and weeks following your death will already be highly emotional and leaving your loved ones to sort out your estate without a will is, in many ways, like adding fuel to the fire.
Leaving it Up to the Rules of Intestacy is Not Always Ideal
When someone hasn’t left behind a valid will, the rules of intestacy will be called into play. Under these rules, very few people have any legal rights to inherit from your estate; unmarried partners, siblings, step-children (not adopted), and close friends will all be excluded, and any specific wishes you may have for your estate will go unrecognised.
The will should be up to date and easy for your relatives to find. Creating a will can be a complex process and, even if you have made one yourself, it may not be sufficient to protect you or your friends and family members from the complications of intestacy. It must be clear and leave nothing to interpretation – as well as being correct in terms of witnessing, and free of clerical errors.
Once it has been created, then remember that communication is key. Ensure your family know of its existence, and that they know where to look for it after your death.