Post-Mortem Property Transfers
One of the classic lines from movies and television shows involving serious crime is that "dead men tell no tales." Another thing that dead people don't do is sign property transfers. One of the curious myths which seems to prevail in our society, however, is that if you don't have a will, then everything will go to the government. That is only true if the deceased left no relatives.
Lawyers (and others involved in estate planning) will tell you that leaving a valid will almost always simplifies the task for those you leave behind. As well as specifying who gets what, a proper will also designates someone to distribute your assets (and pay your debts) after you die. Can you do your own will? If your ideas on how to distribute your assets and your family structure are extremely simple, then you might be able to prepare a valid will on your own. The reality seems to be, however, that a clear majority of the wills prepared without the assistance of a lawyer or notary public are flawed. If you intend to disinherit a spouse or child, then you should discuss the matter with a lawyer because, in that event, it is very unlikely that a "simple" will can achieve your goal without exposing your family to the risk of costly court proceedings. On the topic of disinheriting a spouse or child, you should also note that leaving a small token gift to a spouse or child does not protect the will from attack under wills variation legislation.
What if the deceased just never quite got around to doing a will - or didn't think that one was needed? The Wills, Estates and Succession Act deals with this problem by allocating the assets of the deceased to family members. Contrary to popular opinion, the surviving spouse does not necessarily inherit everything in the absence of a will. If the deceased left a spouse and / or children, then assets will be divided amongst them according to rules contained in the legislation. In this regard, the rules are different for blended families with a smaller allocation being made to the surviving spouse in that situation.
We all know that accepted "wisdom" is not always wise. Even so, it is usually a smart thing to do to get a will.
Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)