In our last blog post, we talked about the dangers of not having a Last Will and Testament. Believe it or not, another bad idea is having a Will that is too specific.
First, let’s look at the point of a Will. Everyone gathers some money, assets and possessions to their name in their lifetime, whether a little or a lot. Death is not only emotional for the loved ones left behind, it can be expensive too. With a Will, you are helping to ensure that your passing away will not mean your family has less money to deal with more expenses (Enter Life Insurance). Because you know your spouse, parents, children and friends better than the courts and lawyers do, you are the perfect person to draw up a Will that says ‘my brother should get my car after I pass on as he doesn’t have one, but my spouse should get all my cash. This way, you can also prevent traumatic things like your children having to be taken out of school for lack of funds.
So, the more specific you are in your Will the better, right? Well, people write funny things in their Wills. There have been Wills that state a certain amount of money must be left to the family dog, or that the surviving wife may only be paid out her share of the money if she does not speak to a person of the opposite sex for more than 90 days.
The main problem here is that the people have clearly drafted their Wills without the help of a professional. Although these two examples are clearly ridiculous, there are others that may look to an untrained eye like a straightforward request. For example: ‘I leave all money in my possession to my children.’ This seems simple enough, but if you have made no mention of a trust being set up in their name and your children are under the age of 18, the funds will have to by law go into The Guardian’s Fund to be administered by government officials that are not family members and have never even met the children. This can take a significant chunk out of the inheritance amount and also take much, much longer for the children to receive any provision.
If a Will is too specific and it’s conditions cannot be met, things are delayed because the court must rule on a suitable alternative. For example, what if the family dog has died long before its owner, who stated that money must go to the family dog? It will take time and money for things like this to be decided legally.
Remember that the thing that you are trying to do with your Will is save your family money and time when you pass on. Unless you have no spouse, parents or children living, usually at least some of your surviving loved ones will get something from your estate eventually. What you are doing with a Will is speeding up that process of the money coming to them, and to ensure that as little of that money gets taken up by legal fees and other expenses as possible.
Because of this, it's always best to get professional help when drawing up a Will. You'll save yourself time, and your family money.