IT IS NEVER TOO SOON TO MAKE THAT WILL
We have now lived with Covid 19 for just over 1 year. Just over 4,500 deaths have been attributed in Ireland to Covid 19 during that period. Some may have expected to go anyway. Many would not. Events such as covid or a road traffic accident or a heart attack or stroke or other event can bring on death long before we may have expected it. Even if death is not immediate, the circumstances may be such that a Will cannot be made after the event.
A Will is one of the view legal documents that can be reviewed and changed after it is made depending on the circumstances of the person making it. One should therefore look at it’s terms based on your circumstances at the time it is being made and not as they might be in 20 or 30 or 50 years time.
Late Middle Age:
Your family may be grown and hopefully matured. You may have a view on what you wish to do with your estate (house, land, money, investments, insurance policies etc) following your death. Make that Will while you are still fully competent both mentally and physically. If circumstances change after making it, you can change the Will to meet those new circumstances. You set out your wishes on your terms. Do you really want to leave it until you are relying on somebody else to make the appointment with a solicitor that you may not know in a hospital ward or a room in a nursing home?
Married with Minor Children:
Sure won’t everything go to my partner? Why do I need a Will now?. Everything may not go to your partner. One third of any of your estate in your sole name will go to your children, if you die without a Will. That could tie up some elements of your estate until the youngest child reaches 18. Or when we are all allowed to go out socialising again, you have finally got the baby sitter. You and your spouse go out for the evening. On the way home, you are involved in a car accident. Neither of you ever comes home again. Who will look after the children? Who will deal with your property and estate so that it is available to your children. While you should rightly hope that such an event will never happen, it should be you and your spouse who choose who will be the guardians of your children and the trustees of your estate in the event that the worst does happen. Set it out in your Will and discuss it with the people chosen, so that everybody is on board. As the children grow up and move on, then the Will can be changed to meet the new situations that life presents.
The Unmarried Couple:
You have been in a stable intimate relationship for many years. You may have children together. You are living together. You may have acquired a property together or separately. Your intent is that anything you might leave will go to your partner. However, that is not legally guaranteed. Your partner does not have the same legal rights on inheritance as a married spouse or civil partner. If you want everything or even some only, that you own in your own right to go to your partner, then you will have to take active steps to make that happen. An essential step is the making of a Will setting out clearly your wishes. There may also be serious inheritance tax issues here, but that is a discussion for another day.
Young and Single:
Even if you are young and single and consider that you have a long life ahead of you, fate may not have that in store for you. If you die without a Will, then your parents will take everything. If your parents are already gone, then your siblings will inherit. You may be perfectly happy with that. However, if you are not, you must take steps to ensure that your estate goes where you wish it to go. That will involve a Will in order to set out your wishes.
Even if you consider that you only have a small estate, then you should take steps to consider what happens to it in the event of your death. You may think that the bank owns most of your house in any event. However, on your death an insurance policy may clear the mortgage, leaving a substantial asset behind. Your employer may provide some form of death in service benefit which may leave a reasonably substantial sum in your estate. You may have an insurance policy which may not be of any practical benefit to you while you are alive, but could be of very great benefit to your family or next of kin in the event of your death.
Take control of the situation. Make your decisions and consult your solicitor with a view to giving effect to those decisions sooner rather than later. It may also ease the burden a little on those left behind in the event of an untimely death.