Your last will and testament is perhaps the most important document that you will ever write. Here are 7 reasons why you should write your last will now.
1 – YOU’LL HAVE THE LAST SAY ABOUT YOUR PROPERTIES
During your lifetime, as owner, the law gives you the right to use and dispose of your property in any way you want. If you own a car, you are free to sell it, donate it, rent it out or use it. These are legally known as “acts of ownership.”
When you pass away, without a will, the law will dictate how your properties will be distributed. Depending on your state or national law, your properties may go to your children, spouse, parents, siblings in proportions dictated by the laws that govern succession.
If you have a Last Will and Testament, you will have the final say about your properties. It is your way of controlling how you will dispose of these after you pass away. Portions would go to your compulsory heirs, such as your children and spouse, but you may also give shares to your favorite charities or specific persons as gifts from that part of your estate known as the “free portion”.
I mentioned compulsory heirs. These are persons who, according to law, are entitled to specific shares from your estate. Without a will, they will all receive these shares. However, if a compulsory heir committed an act which may be a ground for disinheritance under the law, the only way he or she can be disinherited is through a Last Will and Testament. In other words, if you have no Last Will, that compulsory heir will receive a share even if he or she should be disinherited.
2 – YOU CAN DICTATE HOW YOU WANT YOUR FINAL RITES TO BE
This is your way of letting your loved ones know how you want your final rites to be. You can decide on the religious ceremony that should be followed, if you would like to be cremated or not, if you would like people to give donations to a foundation or charity instead of sending flowers, and other desires you may have. This will also make it easier for your relatives who, in their time of grief, may not have a clear idea of what you would like to happen. Sometimes, they may have different thoughts about your religious preferences or other matters, which might cause confusion. A Last Will would be your way of avoiding such confusion.
3 – YOU CAN CHOOSE THE EXECUTOR OF YOUR LAST WILL
In your Last Will, you can name the person who will execute its provisions and administer your estate. You can choose a person you trust, who will faithfully carry out its provisions. Without any will, anyone might administer your estate. Court proceedings for the appointment of an administrator may be filed, which will require evidence, will take time, and may even lead to disputes when your heirs have different preferred administrators.
4 – YOU CAN GIVE PROPERTIES TO YOUR CHOSEN CHARITIES
Charitable institutions are not going to receive anything from your estate if you have no Last Will. Therefore, if you would like to leave something for your chosen charities, churches, or organizations, you must do this through your Last Will. This would also allow you to give to persons of your choice even if they are not related to you.
5 – YOU CAN TELL YOUR HEIRS WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Facebook has what is called memorialized accounts, “a way for people on Facebook to remember and celebrate those who’ve passed away.” Facebook memorializes an account when it learns that a person has passed away. Relatives also have the option of requesting that the account be removed.
According to Facebook, you can tell them in advance if you would like your account to be memorialized or permanently deleted when you pass away.
You can also appoint a legacy contact for your FB account, who will manage your memorialized account. He or she can update your profile photo, write a final message, or request the removal of your account.
Linkedin will delete a deceased person’s account after an online form is submitted together with an obituary, relevant article or other attachment. In Instagram, the account may either be memorialized or deleted pursuant to a request. There is also a procedure for Twitter accounts.
You might want to include a provision in your Last Will about memorializing your FB and Instagram accounts, or if you would rather have these deleted permanently.
6 – YOU CAN ENTRUST THINGS OF SENTIMENTAL VALUE TO THOSE WHO WOULD TAKE CARE OF AND TREASURE THEM
Some of your things may not have much monetary value, so your heirs may not consider them important. However, these may have much sentimental value for you and certain people whom you know would treasure and care for them.
My mom, a dentist, had certain dental gadgets that she kept for decades when she ran a dental clinic with her good friend from dentistry school. When my mom passed away, the gadgets had been replaced by modern high-tech ones but she had entrusted her old gadgets to her good friend who has a small clinic at home and who kept them in a special corner for friendship’s sake.
7 – YOU CAN DESIGNATE FUNDS FOR SPECIFIC PEOPLE WHOM YOU CARE ABOUT
You may have someone who is not your heir whom you would like to provide for financially, to take care of that person’s day-to-day needs, including medical needs, when you are no longer around. This can hold true for those who would like to provide for persons with disability, or a scholarship fund for a deserving student, for instance. You can include this in your Last Will.
Make sure that when you make your Last Will, you have the advice of a lawyer who has authority to practice within your state or country. This is because, as mentioned earlier, national or state laws have specific provisions about inheritance and succession. There are also strict legal requirements on the forms of a Last Will and Testament to make it valid. You would like your most important document to comply with these.
It’s never too early to set your life in order by making a Last Will, and the sooner you do it, the better.
Until next time!