While it can be difficult to get yourself or a loved one to sit down and draft a Last Will and Testament, it is a very important aspect of protecting yourself, your assets, and the loved ones who will need to distribute your estate after your death. When you take the time to complete a Will, you not only have the opportunity to express your last wishes for your estate, but you also have the opportunity to save on the costs associated with dying intestate i.e. dying without a will. The costs associated with dying intestate can be excessive.
Dying intestate carries with it tax consequences that might not ordinarily occur if the deceased had a Will. When you create a Will, you have an opportunity to distribute your assets as you choose. When making these choices, you will inevitably be able to select those that may have a lesser tax consequence for your estate overall and for your individual beneficiaries.
Additional Court Costs
When you die intestate, there is no one designated as your executor to oversee the distribution of your assets. When this occurs, a person must be named to carry out these responsibilities. As a result, a grant of letters of administration must be filed with the Court. This responsibility usually falls on the person entitled to the greatest portion of the estate. The Court will then appoint an executor for the estate. This executor will be entitled to be compensated for their work. Hence, it is possible that these estate funds will go to someone unknown to the deceased, rather than to a family member who agreed to take on these responsibilities for a nominal fee or, possibly, no fee at all.
Fees for Experts
Dying without a Will can also cause the need for additional experts to get involved in the process. It is possible that the estate could need an accounting of funds to determine its exact extent prior to being distributed. In addition, there could be legal issues with the estate, such as outstanding debts that have not been provided for by explicit instruction of the deceased. Both of these circumstances could require the assistance of additional legal counsel and/or a financial expert.
When a person dies without a will, the distribution of the estate is determined via the laws of intestacy. This means that the deceased does not get to choose how much is distributed to his or her beneficiaries. Instead, spouses, children, parents, and siblings will receive their share of the estate according to the provisions of the law, which may not be consistent with what the deceased may have wanted. This leaves the door open for loved ones to dispute the manner in which the law dictates the distribution of the estate. By doing so, legal fees can be incurred that are costly to the beneficiaries and the estate itself. The advantage of drafting a Will is that the testator can address this concern within the confines of the Will, itself, thereby significantly reducing the chances of litigation after their passing.
While a person can make the decision not to draft a Will and allow the laws of intestacy to distribute their estate, this is not necessarily a financially efficient way to handle the need for a Will. By choosing to handle the distribution of your estate via drafting a Will, you retain the right to make good choices for your loved ones and for the financial future of your assets. Hence, even though this can be a somewhat uncomfortable task, it can be done well with the support of a solicitor who specialises in this area of law.
In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of their legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.