Although most people realise that it is important to have a will, it is often something that gets put off in favour of more pressing tasks. However, it is of utmost importance to have a will written and properly formalised in the unlikely event that something unexpected happens. Regulations governing what happens to a person’s assets when they have died intestate can be incredibly harsh on the remaining family members. To prevent this happening, a will must be produced.
First and foremost, a will protects any children in the family. Children need protecting right thorough their lives, even if one parent is sadly taken away from them far earlier than hoped for. It is only possible to have a direct impact on the quality of your child’s life whilst you are still alive to be involved in it – what happens to them after your death can be confusing and complex if provisions have not been set out in law. Issues regarding the guardianship of a child where there are no surviving parents will be dealt with by the authorities, often needing a court settlement, and the decisions that are made in these cases can cause conflict and unhappiness. The future care of your children should perhaps not be left into the care of a legal system which does not know them on a personal level. Leaving instructions in a will as to who will assume responsibility for their care will at least help ease the difficulties faced after death.
Without a will, any assets left at death will be divided between family members according to governmentally devised proportions. This makes it particularly difficult in the cases of step children or other more complicated family arrangements, which the law is not terribly good at handling after death. In addition, should there be any special requests governing the division of property or assets – such as a bequest to charity or gifts to distant relatives – these are unlikely to be honoured without a legal will. Arrangements should be made to ensure that the right people receive the benefit of the estate after death.
Finally, taxes payable by the deceased from their estate can be sizeable, making a substantial impact on what is left to family members. Should there be no will left, the proportion paid in taxes will likely be even larger, to account for the legal fees and other costs incurred in settling an account intestate.