by Veronica Plenty
“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark”
– Richard Cushing
Many of us make plans to travel, attend birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, family reunions and many other memorable life events. Most times, preparations are made months or years in advance. But do we put that same energy, thought, and effort into planning for our loved ones and ensuring our wishes are known and executed prior to departing this life?
We know death is inevitable. But oftentimes we neglect or delay in putting our affairs in order. How do we begin to chart that course and put it into action? How do we ensure that our earthly gifts are placed in the hands of those whom we believe deserve it? We can do this by making a will.
What is a will?
A will is a document or documents made by an adult expressing his or her wishes as to how properties/assets are to be distributed after that person’s death.
When should one consider making a will?
Of course, we would all like to live forever, but death is a certainty. From looking at recent obituaries, we see an increase in younger deaths, and this means that it is never too soon to start planning. Under English law, a person may make a valid will when he/she is over the age of majority and that person must possess the mental capacity to do so.
A few months ago, I worked with a client, a 37-year-old woman who was interested in writing her last will wherein she made provisions for her only child. She did not have acres of land or millions of dollars, but she wanted to ensure that what little she had would be given to her child when she, the mother, departed this life. When this woman died only a few weeks later, it was with the assurance that her wishes would be carried out.
Failure to make a will
So what happens if you die without a will?
If you own property or have monies in the bank, or whatever other personalty (movable property) or realty you may own and you die without making a will; your possessions/assets will be distributed in accordance with the law which makes provisions for such cases. For example, the law makes provision for the living spouse and children to be entitled in the first case. If there are none then other provisions apply. The law regarding this is enshrined in the Intestate Estates Act, Chapter 154 of the 2010 Continuous Edition of the Revised Laws of Grenada. Simply put, if you fail to deliberately distribute your assets in your lifetime, the law will do it for you after your death.
Preparing a will is not expensive. It’s also not just for the wealthy or the elderly. Preparing a will benefits anyone wanting to save their family the stress, friction, and confusion that can often arise when the wishes of the deceased are not known or legally recorded. If you want to have a say in who gets your most prized possessions, get a will prepared. If you want to avoid infighting or strained relationships within your family, get a will prepared. And, if after creating a will you have a change of heart about how you want your possessions to be distributed, know that you can always alter the contents in the will.
Veronica Plenty is a paralegal, and the founder of Info Trac.
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