None of us enjoys thinking about our demise, but it’s crucial to understand why we need to prepare a will, and to get it done, pronto! Simply put, this legal document clearly explains how we wish to have our “estate” distributed when we’re gone. This includes our bank accounts, property, financial investments, and material possessions, from jewellery to photo albums. If we don’t leave a will, the government takes control of our estate and decides who gets it, making it even more difficult for our family during an already stressful time.
A properly drafted will puts us in control and ensures that our exact wishes are carried out.
Even if you aren’t leaving a king’s ransom, you’ll still want your worldly possessions to go to the beneficiaries of your choice, not to some long lost relatives who you haven’t seen in decades.
You can write your own will. As long as it’s witnessed and signed properly, it’s just as valid as if a high-priced lawyer drafted it. Of course, the more complicated and extensive your estate, the more likely you’ll want and need an attorney who specializes in wills to help guide you through the process, to whom do you want to leave the care of your young children? Who gets the country house outside of London, the apartment in Paris and the beach house in the Hamptons? Who will pay your debts?
There are all kinds of wills, from property trusts that protect part of the value of your home, for example, so it isn’t all used to pay for home care for a spouse, to trust wills, which hand over all your assets to a number of individuals to hold and invest on behalf of someone else. Trust wills are often drafted when young children are left behind, who can’t decide what to do with the assets.
You don’t want to make mistakes by creating a document that might not be appropriate for you and your circumstances.
You can take a number of routes to get your will drafted, from using the Internet to guide you through a D-I-Y approach, to hiring a high-priced lawyer, who can establish trusts and asset protection; print, bind and store your will, and more. Other firms, such as Saga Legal Services, will give you an upfront fee, based on your unique needs. That way, you won’t have to worry about being billed by the hour, which can run into seriously crazy fees.