For many, Christmas is a time to gather with family and friends, enjoy good food, good wine and (mostly) good company.
Whilst estate planning probably isn’t the most enjoyable subject to discuss over Christmas lunch, the holiday period can be an opportune time to make sure your family understands your estate planning wishes. It will help to ensure everyone is on the same page and can be a way of avoiding unnecessary heartache and conflict in the future.
If you die without a valid Will, how your assets are distributed is decided by law, which varies according to the state you live in and may not be in accordance with your wishes. Making a Will is the only way to be certain a lifetime’s work is passed on to the people you choose.
A Will deals with assets which are owned by you or in which you have an interest.
When you make a Will, you appoint an executor. An executor will look after your estate and distribute the assets according to the instructions you have made in your Will.
Your executor should be trustworthy, reliable and willing to act.
A beneficiary is any person or entity (i.e. charity) who is to receive a gift pursuant to your Will.
If you have children under 18 years old it is also important to think about who you would like to be their guardian. You can appoint a guardian in your Will as well as make arrangements for your children’s maintenance and education.
Once you have made a will, you then need to review it on a regular basis. If your personal circumstances change such as traveling, marriage, separation, divorce, births, deaths, illness, bankruptcy and retirement you may need to make changes to your Will. It is important to know that, if you get married, the existing Wills of both parties are automatically revoked (unless your Wills were made in contemplation of marriage).
Whilst reviewing life’s important paperwork isn’t really a fun way to spend time during the holidays, having an honest family discussion can decrease confusion during life’s toughest times. Communication and preparation now can save a lot of money and stress later.
This article is general information only and should not be relied on without obtaining further specific information.