Death is inevitable. That is the one inescapable fact that we all have to accept. And with death comes the issue of the deceased person’s property. People accumulate wealth and property, in varying degrees, throughout their adult life. They may not only use these assets as they wish during their lifetime, they also have a right, and in fact many regard it as a duty, to arrange for their wealth to be disposed of according to their wishes after their death.
The instrument for doing this is the legal will. The word legal here is very important. A will is not just a statement of intent left by the deceased for the distribution of his property. It is a legal document that is binding on all those involved in the estate and so needs to be carefully drawn up.
In the past a document that outlined the disposal of personal effects was called a “testament” and one that disposed of actual physical assets was called a “will”. Over time thee have been joined together to become a “last will and testament”, a single document that distributes everything a person leaves behind. This is what is now called a will, or to be more specific, a legal will.
The Importance Of A Legal Will
The distributions of a person’s assets after death are subject to a range of laws and taxes. A properly executed legal will ensures that the bequests can be made without any legal complications and with the maximum savings in terms of taxation.
But more than that, a legal will is one that is in itself sound in law and legally valid. That means that the legal will ensures grounds for any disputes between the beneficiaries are kept to the barest minimum. In the case of large estates and / or large families, disputes often arise about the share of assets people are receiving. In the worst case scenario, a will may even be challenged in court by unhappy beneficiaries. A properly drawn up legal will which has been drafted by a lawyer (free legal will formats are also available online) will normally stand up to this challenge and ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out.
A legal will also serves two other important purposes. It allows for the deceased person to nominate an executor of his choice to ensure that the terms of the legal will are carried out in full. A legal will can also allow for the selection of a guardian to raise any minor children left behind and to protect their interests in the same manner that the deceased person would have done.
In case a person has not drawn up a legal will, it is presumed that this person has not made any decision regarding the distribution of his assets. The prevailing laws of the state will then decide the disposal of the assets and the guardianship of any minors.