The term ‘intestacy’ is a word that no one ever wants to hear after a loved one has passed away. Intestacy is when a person dies without leaving a will, or an inadequate will is left which doesn’t deal with all the financial and property aspects.
The word ‘estate’ refers to all the property, land and assets of the deceased person. Combine the two terms, and you come up with ‘intestate’, which is basically a synonym for one of the worst legal nightmares you could possibly imagine.
When this occurs, the law dictates how your property and assets will be split up, and between whom. Those entitled to any share will only get it after all your debts have been paid off.
Problems of Not Making A Will
Many families are dysfunctional, even at the best of times. Throw in the death of a family member and things can only get worse, especially if the deceased didn’t have a legal will. The dysfunction will multiply by leaps and bounds. Grudges that have been long dormant or not mentioned in years can rear their ugly heads and come back into the spotlight.
This can cause great stress on the family, often ending in legal actions against one another or the disintegration of the entire family unit. Estate battles usually involve a lot of money, assets, and property. Who should get what, how much, and when, can all be interpreted differently by various family members.
De facto and same-sex relationships make things that much more complicated.
Choosing not to write a will, people are causing pain and hardship to their loved ones beyond the death itself. When family members are unsure if a will was ever made, they would have to spend time and money looking for one.
They would have to spend time searching through papers and documents, go to the bank for financial records, lawyers, accountants, or even public trustees. If no will is found, they may even have to place an ad in the newspaper asking if there are any debtors to be paid.
This would all have to be done at a time when family members are grieving and distressed.
Once they are sure there is no will out there, a family would have to go through the court system to try and gain control, or power over the estate. Due to the time wasted on trying to find out about the deceased person’s estate affairs, family members may have to pay for funeral expenses out of their own pocket.
It is also possible they may have to pay an inheritance tax before they have even received one penny from the estate.
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An inheritance tax is the tax paid on your estate after you die. In simple terms, it is everything that you own at the time of your death, after you have deducted everything owed. Between this tax and the funeral expenses, loved ones may experience significant financial hardship, especially if they are not well off.
They will go into debt, before even receiving any of your estates. Having a well written will avoid all these scenarios. In some cases, banks and other companies have been known to seize the property and assets, to pay mortgages, taxes, and other debts.
Your family will be forced to hire lawyers themselves, to try and get back what is morally and rightfully theirs.
Benefits of Will Writing
Everyone hates going to see lawyers, but having a well-written will could be the best 10 -15 minutes you ever spent. It means that you can clearly and legally decide who inherits what, and how much. Without making a will, the decision will be left up to the government.
Chances are slim to none that the way they decide how your estate is divided will be the same as the way you wished. With a proper will in place, personal belongings, pets, property, etc. will be dealt out according to your specifications. Making a will helps avoid the unnecessary family fighting and bickering, and saves a lot of money at the same time.
They won’t have to pay for lawyers to get probate, or to sue each other after the estate is divided up unfairly.
Dealing with death is hard enough for those left behind. Dying intestate will only make matters that much harder. For the few dollars it costs, will writing will go a long way for everyone’s peace of mind. The ‘actual’ cost of dying will be far less.