There are many benefits attached to having a Will. In fact, it’s a true risk and bad idea not to have one!
Some benefits of having a will include the power to allow you to:
- Ensure that your possessions will be distributed in accordance with your wishes
Importantly, it is you who can decide who/where you want your property and assets to go after you die (e.g. money, real property, personal belongings). This means that you can ensure that those closest to you will receive your assets, such as your adult children and other dependants. On the contrary, you also have the choice to leave assets to beneficiaries who are not related to you, e.g., de-facto spouse, friends, and charities.
- Appoint and assign powers of an executor or estate trustee, and avoid a lengthy probate process
Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized (which may or may not always be a family member). Having a trusted and impartial Executor/Estate Trustee to oversee and manage the distribution of your estate may provide peace of mind that your wishes will be honored.
- Express funeral and burial arrangement wishes
Although such terms are non-binding, specifying these funeral and burial wishes may facilitate their execution for your loved ones, reducing the stress associated with the duty.
- You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit
Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals out of their will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will your estate may end up in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).
- Minimize payment of estate taxes
The value of what you leave to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
- Address complex issues such as global assets and providing for dependants with disabilities
It’s wise to have a separate Will addressing assets, including bank accounts and real estate, in a different jurisdiction or country as there are varying tax implications for those assets as well as for heirs that live in a different jurisdiction. In addition, a Will serves as a useful tool to put in place for the care of a dependent with a disability, formalizing the financial and personal care arrangements for the person.
- Leave instructions for your digital assets
Your digital assets may include online accounts, such as Facebook or email, and digital files or property (photos, videos, domain names, etc). In your will, you can name a digital executor to manage these assets after you pass. You can leave them to specific people, and also include information on how you want them handled (e.g. if you’d like an account closed).
- Provide a home for your pets
Owning a pet is a great reason to have a will. With a will, you can make sure that someone takes care of your pet after you die. The law considers pets to be property, so you can’t leave any assets to your pet with your will. But you can name a beneficiary for your pet, leaving them to a trusted friend or family member. You can ask that person to act as a caretaker or guardian for your pet, and even leave them funds to provide for your pet’s care.
- Avoid greater legal challenges
If you die without a will, part or all of your estate may pass to someone you did not intend. For example, one case involved the estate of a deceased son who was awarded over $1 million from a wrongful death lawsuit. When the son died, the son’s father – who had not been a part of his son’s life for over 32 years – stood to inherit the entire estate, leaving close relatives and siblings out of the picture!
- Quickens the overall process
Your executor(s) will be able to get hold of the assets almost immediately without the need to go through a court process. Court administration may take months and may result in family members not having access to vital cash flow in times of need (e.g. to pay for living expenses, funeral arrangements, etc.).
There are more than 10 reasons to have a will, but it can be overwhelming to actually draft a will. Contact Richard Kosick Co. in Surrey regarding estate planning and we can help you craft your wishes into a legal document. We have helped hundreds of clients create their unique Will & structure their estates in light of their business & property portfolios.