Wills, Probate & Estate Administration
The death of a loved one is a traumatic experience at the best of times. Wills are essential. If your loved one dies without a Will, then their assets are distributed according to law, which may not accord with their wishes. (See this article for more details.)
Wills vs Powers of Attorney
Many clients confuse a Power of Attorney and a Will. A Power of Attorney only operates whilst the donor of the power is alive – it ceases to have any effect from the moment of their death. Conversely, a Will has no effect unless and until the Will maker (‘testator’, if male, ‘testatrix’, if female) has died.
A valid Will is needed to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. For example, you may have an item of jewellery or artwork that you wish to give to a specific person.
You may have seen do-it-yourself ‘Will Kits’, which are pre-printed forms that attempt to guide you through completing your own Will. In our experience, it is very easy for these kits to produce a Will that is either not technically valid or makes the Will more easily subject to a court challenge by a potential beneficiary. Having a Will of this nature may almost be worse than having no Will at all.
Another consideration that should be borne in mind is that your existing Will may be automatically invalidated by certain life events. Even if your existing Will is not invalidated, any substantial changes to beneficiaries or your assets should prompt you to reconsider whether your Will should be updated.
Probate & Estate Administration
Probate is an Order of the Supreme Court authorising the deceased’s Executor to administer the deceased’s Estate. Probate may be granted by the Supreme Court once it is satisfied as to the validity of the deceased’s Will. A Grant of Probate may not be required, depending upon the type and quantity of assets in the Estate.
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