I’m told the vast majority of people do not have a will. Some people feel that they do not need one for various reasons. Others find it to be too time consuming to get organized, find a lawyer, arrange appointments and attend meetings during their already busy schedules. Many feel that the lawyers’ fees surrounding the creation and maintenance of a will are too expensive.
Legal experts tell me that you should know that it is extremely important that you have an up to date will. If you die without a will, the Intestate Success Act will decide, that is, the courts will decide, how your estate is distributed, and this may not be in the best interests of your loved ones. However, we do know that if you have a will, then the decisions are in your hands.
To die without a will is irresponsible and places a tremendous burden on your survivors. Do not put it off any longer.
I sought advice from lawyer Glen Roebothan (of Roebothan, MacKay and Marshall) about a few common misconceptions: Here are his responses:
“It’s obvious who will get my estate. It will go to my spouse.”
Local laws will determine who will receive your possessions, which may or may not reflect your intentions. If you die without a will and you are married with children, all assets will not automatically go to your surviving spouse.
“I don’t have an estate of any value.”
Even if you don’t believe that you have an estate of any value, your death itself may generate a sizeable benefit. For example, your beneficiaries may be entitled to the proceeds of a life insurance claim, a wrongful death suit, a claim in the event of some negligence resulting in your death. These can be significant sums of money.
“I prepared a will twenty-five years ago when our last child was born. Isn’t that enough?”
No. You should regularly review your will to ensure that it meets your current family and financial situation. A will can be changed at any time by adding a “Codicil”, which is an addition or an amendment to your existing will, or by simply making a new will.
Some circumstances that could require you to change your will include:
a) A change in marital status; if you marry, your will is automatically revoked;
b) The death of a beneficiary;
c) The death of an executor or trustee;
d) an executor or trustee becomes unwilling or unable to act;
e) a change in family circumstances; for example a friend or family member may have a special need that you may wish to provide for.
In conclusion, a legal will is especially important when you are considering leaving a bequest for your church.