A will, often called a ‘last will and testament’, is a document written by an individual (the ‘testator’) stating what will happen to all his or her monies, property and other assets (collectively called ‘the estate’) when he or she dies. In that will, he or she appoints an ‘Executor’ – usually a family member or friend – to carry out the wishes stated in the will after death.
It is very important that you write a will. Otherwise, you will have no say over what happens to your estate when you die. It will be distributed by the law through an ‘Administrator’. This distribution will occur according to a list of persons determined by law – and not to who you think most deserves it. In fact, the list of recipients – called ‘beneficiaries’ – may be entirely against your wishes, if you leave it to the law to deal with your estate.
It is also the only way you can ensure that the arrangements for your spouse and children that you believe are necessary, will be carried out.
It also provides a strong reassurance, to those that matter, that they were appreciated by the friend or family member that has passed away. The alternative – leaving it to the law to distribute an estate – is a much more anonymous and impersonal process.
A will is a very important but complex document. It has to meet many legal requirements and follow certain forms. It must be able to withstand both legal challenges and the tumultuous period of bereavement experienced by the family and friends left behind.
However, as complicated it may seem, writing a will is the wisest thing anyone can do to avoid unnecessary pain and confusion for loved ones. The legal advice provided by a solicitor can simplify the process enormously.