I have listened to financial experts, and I’ve even written articles about last wills and testaments, but it was only recently that I had a new one drawn up. For about five years before that, I had the same will, and didn’t update it when I got remarried, or when I had another child.
It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but certainly not the greatest. Without an updated will, if I died, my possessions might not have gone to the beneficiaries I had in mind, and in the utterly worst-case scenario, if my husband and I died at the same time, our toddler Rebecca would likely have gone under the care of the state to choose who her guardian should be, rather than our chosen guardian.
Yes, it’s a bit of admin and a bit of paperwork, but do you really want to see your jewellery and car go to people who you didn’t intend to receive them, and do you really want your kids not to be taken care of by the right people?
September is National Wills Month, and the good guys at Hero Life, a company that helps parents with their finances, gave some advice on what everyone should know about a will – from how to get one done, to what an executor is. If there’s one thing you do from a financial planning point of view ASAP, it’s a will.
Drawing up a will
Drawing up a will is not nearly as complex as most people think it is, especially when one considers the importance of having one. It can be as easy as downloading basic templates from the internet or going through an online will drafting process. At Hero Life, you can get your will done there, and you’ll be able to get all the right boxes ticked.
In more complicated cases (such as when there are ex-spouses/partners, children from previous marriages, disabled dependents, a special needs trust or any other specific wishes to be implemented), it is better to have a practising attorney or reputable bank draw up the will.
Getting an executor
An executor is the appointed person (it can be a family member) or company in your will who ensure that your wishes in your will are fulfilled. If you don’t appoint an executor, the court will appoint someone. It’s not advisable to choose your spouse as your executor though as they might not be strong enough to make financial decisions as an executor if you die.
If you choose a family member, it’s a good idea to nominate an attorney as a co-executor to deal with the legal matters.
Your will needs to be signed by witnesses – these witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of your will. If your will was drafted by an attorney or bank, it’s always best to store it with them.
If you decide to store the will yourself, it’s a good idea to make up one file and safely store of all your important documents, including your will, as this will make it easier for the people you leave behind. Add to this file a list of all your investments, assets, contact details of your executor and any other important documents you think your loved ones will need.
For parents of children, the biggest mistake would be not to nominate a legal guardian(s) for their children and therefore leaving it to the Court to decide. Other typical mistakes include leaving out specific assets from the will, or forgetting to update it as circumstances change. Most importantly though, the biggest mistake is not to have a will at all.
Good to remember
Every time your circumstances change, for example you get a divorce, or remarry, or have another child, you should update your will. While you’re at it, also look at your insurance policies and make sure that the nominated beneficiaries of these policies are updated to reflect your wishes.
If you don’t update your will, it could mean that your estranged spouse receives a portion of your assets, which might not have been what you had in mind.
For more information on drawing up a Will or getting life insurance, contact Hero Life.