Something I see all too often as a family lawyer are people fighting over the estate of a loved one that has recently passed because there is no will left behind with instructions. Emotions and hurt can still occur even when there is one because family members sometimes feel the division of assets and such is unfair or disagree with the instructions. Still, having a last will and testament will minimize family disputes.
When you don’t have a will in place, your estate is tied up in the courts and eventually they end up deciding how to divide your estate without your direction.
While there are more reasons than not, here are seven reasons why having one is a good idea.
1. Family Protection
One of the most important reasons for having a will is protecting the interests of your family and loved ones after your passing. Sometimes depending legal challenges beyond what you would imagine occur and a portion or your entire estate may be awarded to someone you would not have wanted to inherit it. For example, in a wrongful death lawsuit the father of a son who had passed suddenly was awarded over $1 million even though the father had not been part of his life for over 32 years. His mom and siblings who were part of his life received nothing.
In creating your will, you and only you decide how your estate is to be divided and distributed. It is a legally binding document that instructs exactly how you want your assets and such to be handled when you pass.
Controlling who gets what is an important part of your will. In fact, sometimes disinheriting certain family members to ensure they do not receive any inheritance is even more important. But if you don’t have a will, you have no say and sometimes your full inheritance can be passed on to someone you would not have wanted to receive anything like an ex-spouse.
Needless to say that if you have children, especially if they are minors, you would want to have a say in who will look after them should you pass away before they are able to care for themselves. Without any instructions, the court will have to appoint a family member or guardian to care for them.
Appropriating your estate by dividing it among family members or donating to a charity of your choosing can minimize the taxes on your estate. It’s unfortunate but without one, the estate is taxed and the government will still get its share in taxes. Avoid being overtaxed on your estate by having a will in place and all assets properly divided.
This is quite a responsibility for the executor as their role will be to pay all bills, close accounts, cancel credit cards, and notify any and all banks and business establishments of your passing. Having someone you can trust that is reliable and organized handle these things makes the most sense. It also doesn’t have to be a family member, so choose this person wisely.
7. Gifts & Donations
Leaving a gift or donation behind is like leaving a legacy that can make a positive impact that lives on even when you are gone. Not to mention, that gifts and donations up to a certain amount are excluded from taxes.
None of us are guaranteed tomorrow and the only guarantee in life is that one day, whether sudden or not, we will pass on. Having a will can put our minds at ease and allow us to better enjoy our days while here knowing that our family’s interests will be protected and taken care of.
For more family law news and information please visit https://www.mazzeolaw.ca/