10 reasons to make a Will 

A Will isn't just a nice-to-have. It's the only way to make sure everything you've worked hard for is passed on to the people you care about.

1. Decide what happens to your estate

Having a Will is the only way you can choose who you want your property, money and possessions (known as your estate) to be passed on to.

Without one, then it's up to the government to decide. That might mean the people you'd like to inherit your estate end up with nothing, while those who you'd rather didn't take the lion's share. 

A Will is a legally-binding document that lets you decide how your estate is distributed after you've died. 

Having a Will also makes things much easier for the loved ones you leave behind, and minimises the chance of disputes at an already stressful time. 

2. Decide who will look after your children

A Will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your minor children. Without a Will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian.

Having a Will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.

3. Avoid a lengthy and costly probate 

Having a Will speeds up the probate process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of 'administering your estate', and when you die without a Will (known as dying 'intestate'), the court will decide how to divide your estate without your input, which can also cause long, unnecessary delays.

4. Avoid estate taxes

Another reason to have a Will is that it allows you to minimise your estate taxes. The value of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.

5. Choose your own executors

Having a Will allows you to decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate. Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments.

Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organised (which may or may not always be a family member).

6. Choose you you want to disinherit 

You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit. Most people do not realise they can disinherit individuals out of their Will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a Will.

Because Wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, without a Will your estate may end up on the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).

7. Let your legacy live on when you're gone

Make gifts and donations. The ability to make gifts is a good reason to have a Will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests.

8. Avoid significant legal challenges

If you die without a Will, part or all of your estate could go to someone you did not intend. This could leave your own family loosing out!

9. You can change your mind if your circumstances change

A good reason for having a Will is that you can change it at any time while you’re still alive. Life changes, such as births, deaths, and divorce, can create situations where changing your Will are necessary.

10. Tomorrow is not promised

Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not having a Will. Sometimes the realisation that Wills are necessary comes too late – such as when an unexpected death or health issue occurs. 

To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, making a Will or updating an existing Will can give you peace of mind for the future.

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