Imagining your own death is not a pleasant thought. We all like to push the thought out of our minds that we will one day be deceased and that our loved ones will continue on without us. However, whether you avoid the thought or not – the sad truth is that everyone will end up six feet under sooner or later.
Coming to terms with your own mortality can be a deep philosophical realisation, but it should also be a practical wake up call. Think about this – if you were to die tomorrow unexpectedly, would all of your affairs be in order? Do you have a Will that states whom among your family members, spouse and children should receive your hard earned money and assets? If the answer is “no”, you might end up leaving behind quite a mess.
Dying without a Will is called “Dying Intestate”. If this happens, it is not you that will decide what happens to your worldly possessions, but rather the government. A suitable administrator will be appointed by the Supreme Court, who might not be the person you would have chosen if you had the decision. The law will establish how your property will be shared, after all of your debts have been paid. This can get really complicated and the proceedings might not be conducted according to your wishes, especially if you have a second marriage, a common law partnership, or other more complex family relationships.
If you don’t want this to happen, law firms such as Prime Lawyers offer assistance with Wills and Estates that will help you write up a legally sound Will so that your money goes to your loved ones. With a properly written will, you can determine exactly who inherits what, as well as decide who will care for any children under the age of 18.
How Dying Without a Will Affects Your Loved Ones
There are many major disadvantages to dying without a will, especially the fact that intestacy can be much more complicated and therefore a more expensive legal process. Your heirs will not be able to receive your money or property for a very long time and when they finally do, much of it will have been consumed by legal fees.
Leaving a Partner Out in the Cold
Your partner might not automatically receive everything that you own, especially if you live together but are not legally married. You might have shared finances for years and they might be financially dependent on you, but co-habitees have no rights of inheritance under the rules of intestacy. This means that unless you and your partner own your property as joint tenants, your co-habitee will not have an automatic right to inherit the property and could even end up homeless. Your money will be divided amongst your children equally, regardless of any other financial support you have given them or rifts in the family.
No Options for Personal Inheritance Gifts
If you wanted to leave a priceless collection that you have kept for many years to your nephew who will really appreciate it, without a will this might not happen. The property will be considered part of your overall estate and will be divided among your decedents according to their legal rights.
Who Takes Care of Your Kids?
Another major disadvantage to dying without a will is that if you have children under the age of 18, you will not be able to decide on who becomes their legal guardian. A judge will decide who would be the best fit as a caregiver for your children, which means that they might end up living with your sister when you always thought they would be happier living with your cousin.
As you can see, dying without a will can leave behind a stressful and complex situation for all of your family members and loved ones. I know it’s not nice to think about death, but writing a Will can ensure that no matter what happens, you are prepared.