A Will is a formal document which sets out how a person wishes to dispose of his or her property/estates after death. Many people are skeptical when it comes to discussing this topic and indeed the Process of planning for your death and organizing your estate documents could be a grim and difficult subject and as a result of this, estate planning often falls to the bottom of many people’s priority list. This ought not to be so, it is essential to put ones house in order by providing for the wellbeing of your family members and loved ones in the event of your death and avoid unnecessary chaos.
The right time to make a Will is NOW. A person who has attained the age of majority (21 years) is qualified to make a Will if they have possessions they wish to dispose amongst their loved ones, dependents, charity organizations or creditors as the case may be when they die. People are encouraged to make a Will as timely as possible as no one really knows when they would die. It is therefore advisable to make a Will while one is alive, healthy and in the right frame of mind. Waiting until one is terminally ill to make a will presents a number of dangers. First, the testator may not be in possession of his full mental faculties to validly dispose of his properties. Secondly, the court may so hold and thus, nullify his Will.
The right time to meet with a professional to make a will is:
- After Getting Married: This reflects on the significant changes to your personal relationship and most likely beneficiaries named in your will. It is important to remember that by Section 18 of the Wills Act, wills made before marriage are cancelled automatically upon marriage unless specified otherwise in the Will.
- After Having Children: when you have your children it is important to have your Will in place so they are properly provided for because while the laws on intestacy (dying without a will) will ensure that your children are entitled to a portion of your estate, the ultimate division may not be as you would have preferred.
- After Starting a Business: As part of your business succession plan you may be grooming your children to take over your business when you retire. You should reflect these business plans and outline a business that will to pass on to your next of kin.
- After buying a home: This is a representative of a significant change in the value of your estate. Any change in your estate value, whether an increase or decrease will affect who your beneficiaries are and how much you leave them after your death. Buying or selling a large asset means you should update your will and how your assets will be distributed.
- A Visit to Mortality: if you or any of your loved ones have recently had a health scare or significant event reminding you about death, it may force you to realize that you have not prepared for your ultimate demise. In the face of this realization you will want to make sure that you are prepared properly for your death. In addition to updating your estate planning document, also note if someone you have named in your Will has passed away or become incapacitated you should update your estate planning documents to reflect these changes.
- Change Factor: It is recommended that you review or update your estate planning document at least every five years.
In addition to the reasons listed above many things change over time including laws, health of the individual and family member, relationship (such as marriage or divorce within the family), your personal priorities including charitable giving, and many other factors. That would affect how you want to distribute your estate.
Finally, People should rest in their graves, knowing that they made adequate preparations for the disposition of their properties upon demise.
NOTE: A Person may make as many Wills as he wishes but the only relevant one is the last valid Will made upon his death.