Benjamin Franklin in the 18th Century observed that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. His observation is just as valid today. They affect us all. In these library articles I will explore legal issues relating to the two subjects of death and taxes.
A good starting point is to consider the subject of making a Will.
In simple terms, a Will is a declaration of intention made by an individual in a prescribed form, which will take effect upon death. It is revocable until then.
Statistics indicate that as many as seven out of ten people do not have a Will. The reasons for not making a Will are obviously unique to the individual and can range from a fear of one’s own mortality to the perceived expense and complexity of putting in place a Will in the first place.
The process itself is not complicated and the advantages are many, as listed below:
- You decide who receives the assets within your estate upon death.
- The rules of intestacy will be avoided. Parliament has laid down the rules in relation to the distribution of an estate where a person dies without making a Will. A Will overrides these rules.
- You can choose your own executors and trustees, i.e. the people responsible for acting in the administration of your estate and any continuing Will Trust.
- The Executors derive their authority from the Will itself, and can act in the administration of an estate before the Grant of Probate is obtained.
- A guardian of infant children can be appointed.
- Special arrangements can be incorporated e.g. directions as to burial or cremation.
- Trustees powers can be extended in order that they can act with greater flexibility than otherwise would be the case.
- Wills are an effective vehicle for financial planning in the context of long term care.