The death of Prince is a recent example of the problems of not having a will, where his siblings are now at risk of becoming tied up in a lengthy legal process due to his lost or missing will.
Essentially, not having one means that you will not have made it clear and recorded your wishes for what happens to your wealth and assets if you die. In these circumstances, the law of Intestacy comes into effect.
Under the law of intestacy, the state decides what happens next. With no written will, the state tries to balance the rights of the surviving spouse and children. But in effect this may not accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased, had they been written down in a will. Individuals may be disadvantaged by this process if it doesn’t reflect the actual relationship they had in life with the deceased.
The law of intestacy, therefore, risks mis-aligning your wishes, when alive, with what actually happens to your legacy. This may not just be about wealth and assets. There are issues around family protection, where children can end up being taken into care because no will exists making specific provision for their needs and welfare.
There is a popular view about writing a will that it’s all about thinking of your own eventual demise and so putting your affairs in order. But this is a very limited viewpoint to take. In fact, estate planning is about looking after your family. It’s family wealth planning. Because of the perception that wills are predominantly about death, they tend to be overlooked, ignored or put off. But in effect, they should be viewed as a logical extension of sound financial planning.
Estate planning is a specialist area, but it deals in real issues around controlling your own finances. You should use estate planning as an opportunity to safeguard your wealth and assets for your family’s future; and not leave things to the discretion of the state.
You’re probably not a millionaire musician like Prince, but the issues around writing a will are the same.
If you would like more information on safeguarding your wealth and assets for your family’s future, please contact us.