Wills: A family recipe

As the festive season starts to crank up people are busy planning their Christmas dinners. Each family have their own traditions and this is reflected in the different types of food they serve up. We take care to plan meals that people can share and enjoy.

When discussing a Will with a client, different family arrangements often come up as well. Common ingredients we use to provide a person with peace of mind that their final wishes will be carried out include:

2 cups of fairness

Does an equal split of your assets among children result in a fair outcome? Maybe one child has a greater need to be provided for.

1 cup of kindness

Is there a charity who could benefit from a gift? Leaving your favourite charity some money is a great way to support their work.

1 cup of forgiveness

It is common for people to give a son or daughter a lump sum gift towards the purchase of their first home with a joking comment “here is an early inheritance”. But what does that expression mean? Does it mean it’s a loan from you that they need to repay to your estate? Or, is it meant to come out of their share of the estate? Whatever you mean by it, we need to include a specific clause.

1 tablespoon of executor clauses

This is to ensure that your executor is not just appointed, but is empowered to undertake a variety of roles to properly see to the administration and distribution of the estate.

Method

Once you have your ingredients all combined, we blend it together. Oh, and speaking of blended families, if you own property with your partner, how you hold that property is vital. If you are both joint tenants, the other joint tenant will automatically inherit your share in the property regardless of what your Will states. This can cause tension as people can have real fears that their own children might miss out because the new partner takes the house - often the main asset of the estate.

For alternative toppings, what if the partner re-partners and they update their Wills? What if they have a falling out with your children? These are all valid concerns but if you own the property as tenants in common, your Wills can state who you wish to give your share of the property too. This will result in your partner and your children ending up on title together. This could be fantastic and everything you dreamed of or, a recipe for disaster itself.

These are not easy decisions to make and much like cooking a macaron, getting the balance between your partner and your children is vital, so it doesn’t all collapse in a big mess.

Serve your Will with the correct execution - two independent witnesses, both over eighteen who know exactly where to sign. Store in a safe place. If properly drafted, it should stay fresh for many years to come.

Remember - everyone’s family is different. If you think it’s too hard to make arrangements in a Will this doesn’t mean you should toss it into the too hard basket. Departing the world without a Will is harder on those left behind.

Need to get your Will organised before the New Year? Talk to the team at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers.