It is well known that a large number of people do not get round to making a will, often leaving a difficult situation behind them. However, what is frequently overlooked is keeping a will up-to-date. Families are more complex than ever before and many people acquire children, assets and also marry more than once as they go through life. A will drafted many years before death may not include all beneficiaries that the deceased may have wanted to include; or there may be individuals that depended on the deceased financially who are omitted due to the failure of the deceased to recognise the vital importance of keeping on top of their situation and give thought to what will happen when they are no longer here. Nobody would like to think of the much-loved relative having to fight through the courts for something you could have easily arranged to give them in your will.
Many people now live abroad or have real estate assets abroad in the shape of a holiday home; the worst-case scenario is to own such overseas assets without a will in place. Should a person die intestate when living abroad their overseas assets are disposed of in accordance with the laws of succession in the country in which they and their assets are situated, which may not suit you at all.
A will is one of the most neglected legal documents, mobile phone contracts are frequently upgraded and taken better care of than a person's will. Neglecting the task of making and up-dating a will could mean that rifts within a family unit could lead to acrimonious challenges to your will resulting in the estate being reduced to next to nothing, even substantial estates suffer when the legal fees accompanying a legal challenge cut into the value of the estate. Letting people know how you wish your estate to be distributed can be a good way of preventing in-fighting but not in every case.
The very best way for a person to ensure that nothing will impact on their heirs is to consult cross-border lawyers who can make absolutely sure that their estate is safe and everything is bequeathed to the family members that they wish to advantage on their death. Making an ironclad will which avoids the situation whereby an estranged disliked relative will inherit part of your estate rather than, for example, a much-loved step-daughter or son whom you have brought up, supported and considered as your own.
There are a considerable number of issues to consider, some of which may not be particularly in the forefront of your mind such as:
- Protecting your partner's position if you are unmarried.
- What if you did not divorce your spouse and simply moved in with your new partner and haven't got round to marriage?
- How can you minimise your benefactor's tax liability?
- What happens if you lose capacity?
- Can you prevent your relatives from challenging your will?
- How to protect an heir who is under the age of majority.
- How to make certain your executors will carry out your express wishes.
- How can you protect your adopted children if it was an informal agreement with the birth mother and never enshrined legally?
- How to ensure that the inheritance goes only to the benefactor named and not to the benefactor's family upon their death.
- If you make a will what happens if a benefactor pre-deceases you?
The short answer to all the problems that could arise is to put all the issues that apply to you on a very sound legal footing, the lawyers in Giambrone's cross-border wills and probate team will be able to avoid a considerable number of situations with a sound well-drafted will protecting your benefactors and safeguarding your wishes for your family.
If you would like to know more about how to make sure that your estate is shared as you would like it to be please click here