Wills; A Need For Them

Introduction To Wills
Reports have it that even in death, the late legal icon. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), remained true to the principles that guided his life. Gani, who died on September 5,2009, made provisions for the poor and beggars in his last Will. The Will which made First Trustees the Sole Executor and Trustee of his Estate was read on Thursday 22 April 2010 in the presence of his widows, children and relatives. Besides making provisions for his widows, children and relatives, Gani also left part of his vast Estate for the benefit of the poor. (Punch, Friday, April 23, 2010).

No doubt, one of the greatest mistakes you can ever make in Estate Planning is to die without a Will, particularly when your assets at the time of death are not in a Trust. Without a Will, your Estate generally goes to the beneficiaries stated in the laws of your state rather than those you might have preferred to inherit them. It is therefore important to have a Will in place whether or not you believe you have enough assets worth bequeathing.

The Need For A Will
Wills remain the traditional way of gifting property to loved ones. A man who dies testate (with a Will) is however better than a man who dies intestate (without a Will). When a man dies without a Will there often arise problems and complications. This is because all the Estate will be administered by the State. Although the court system attempts to distribute the deceased assets in a manner that is deemed fair to your beneficiaries, there is no guarantee that fairness would be achieved.

When an individual dies intestate, it would be necessary to compile a list of the deceased’s assets in addition to identifying beneficiaries to the assets. Unfortunately, until this administration process is complete, assets cannot be distributed, even to beneficiaries who have already been identified. It is also necessary to decide who the administrators should be and obtained the letter of administration as appropriate.

By drafting a Will, an individual ensures that his or her belongings will go to the desired beneficiaries upon his/her death.

Other reasons why you should have a Will are:

  • Should you die without a Will, there are certain rules which dictate how your money, property or possessions would be distributed. This procedure may not be how you would have wanted your estate to be managed.
  • Unmarried partners and partners who are not statutorily registered cannot inherit from each other unless there is a Will. Hence, the death of one partner may create serious financial mishap for the living one. If you are blessed with children, you will need to make a Will wherein you provide for their anticipated future needs.
  • Since you will appoint an Executor/Trustee of your choice, your Estate will not be subject to the whims and caprices of the Public Administrator/Trustee and the attendant bureaucracy which follows intestacy.
  • It may not be impossible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance taking cognizance of the fact that your Executor would be given a firsthand opportunity in the probate form to evaluate your estate which will be the basis for inheritance tax. A man who dies intestate would not have this privilege because only the valuer appointed by the State would carry out such evaluation and your estate may be overvalued for tax purposes.
  • Besides, there is a likelihood that you will be allowed to rest after a ” life of hard work” if you make a Will and distribute your assets according to your wishes. If you die intestate (without a Will), be assured that you have opened your Estate to full blown serial-litigation and planted a legacy of discord for your love ones.
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