The strange thing about Wills is that everyone kind of, sort of, knows that they should probably have one.
It’s one of those responsible adult things we all plan to do, and… sometimes… we don’t get around to it. Many times, we don’t.
I didn’t. Then I did. Then I realised that things had changed and I really needed to update it. So now, I am updating it. And even as I write this I realise that I have half drafted it up but really need to finish it and get it finalised. I am a terrible adult.
Benefits to having a current Will are numerous.
First, and foremost, a current Will ensures that your wishes are expressed in a way that is both recognised by law and the people in your life. As humans, we seem to understand and know of ‘Wills’ from a young age (why, I don’t know, movies maybe?) and therefore know what they are and when they matter. For some strange reason, as we grow older, we also learn you can ‘contest’ a Will, and that just complicates things.
But let’s just pretend that latter part is an anomaly, and the main thing is that you have an opportunity to clearly express your wishes as to what should happen to your life once you are no longer living in it.
Another benefit is to protect your loved ones from the intrusion of the government. If you were to pass away intestate, the government can intervene to resolve your outstanding financial matters and, worse still, the guardianship of your children. Imagine your family navigating the loss of you emotionally, whilst practically dealing with bureaucrats telling them what is it happen with everyone and everything left behind.
Then there are tax benefits. Depending on how your Will is drafted, and what other structures you have in place, you could be protecting your family from the unpleasant surprise of unexpected tax debts resulting from how your Estate has been distributed.
Getting a simple Will in place could save your loved ones from more headaches than they need after they have already lost you.
I know that, as ‘younger’ adults and parents, in our twenties and thirties (and even forties), we have a tendency to think that death is a long way off. We assume that we will be part of the majority of humans that just continue through life, healthy and living, until old age. Why would we think otherwise.
In the last few months, and part of the reason I left my stable, government job, to start my own practice, was losing a friend as a result of complications in child birth. She left behind a husband, and two little preschool girls. She didn’t go into hospital expecting to never come home. I don’t expect she had ever turned her mind to what would happen to her children and her ‘things’ if ever she weren’t around.
There are many lessons to take from loss. For me, it was to make my life what I wanted now, and not wait for the ‘right time’. Now I have done that, it has reminded me to ensure that, if I am not here for any reason, my son and my family will be okay.