5 more reasons to have a will prepared... today

5 more reasons to have a will prepared... today


Monday, January 25, 2021

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VERY few things are as guaranteed in life as death. Now with that uncomfortable fact out of the way, the core question is, what can we do to prepare for this mortal certainty?

A will gives you the opportunity to put your affairs in order, preferably long before a doctor advises you to do so. In short, a will is a binding legal document which expresses a person's (testator's) wishes of how their assets are to be managed and/or distributed once they have died. As such, a will has no legal effect as long as the person is alive.

Near the end of last year we gave you five reasons to have a will prepared right now. Here is an additional five, as a reminder.

1. Death can be sudden

In the HBO hit television series A Game of Thrones, one of the lead characters, Tyrion Lannister, was asked the question, “How would you like to die, Tyrion son of Tywin?” Unfortunately, his answer cannot be published in this forum, but the question should cause you to ponder. The truth is that it is not often that we know the day, hour or minute that death will arrive, and rather than having to rush to scribble your final wishes on the nearest piece of napkin, it would be better to have a will prepared, just in case. This is especially true if you are a single parent or if you know that your beneficiaries could potentially end up in a legal battle or conflict after you have passed. Whatever the case may be, it is better to have a new will prepared every five years rather than not have had one at all.

2. You may need to sue someone quickly… from the grave

A will empowers the named executor(s) to act immediately upon your passing. Given that various circumstances may cause death and your affairs may not entirely be in order, a will would immediately allow the executor(s) to commence legal action against someone and/or entity who, for example, owed you money, or caused you to die through injuries sustained in a car accident, or in a situation where a transaction has stalled because of your death and the other party now refuses to complete it. The ability of your executor(s) to quickly enforce your legal rights may be extremely beneficial to your family members, business associates and/or beneficiaries. Your estate would need to have an administrator appointed before any legal action could commence.

3. Naming a guardian for children

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal. The Latin phrase translates to, “Who will guard the guardians?” An appropriate response in these circumstances would be “a will”. A will can name a guardian for a child in the event that one or both parents are dead and/or in the event that the only parent may not be able to care for the child because of incapacitation, incarceration or even being outside of the country. Accordingly, a guardian would step in to ensure children are taken care off – in fact the will could be used as evidence in an application to have the guardian formally appointed by the court. Again I would urge all single parents to have a will done today.

4. Creating a testamentary trust.

You've worked all your life to create a better future for your child or children, but would it be wise to give a ten year old child ten millions dollars or an apartment to manage exclusively? No. In fact that child or children would not have the legal capacity as minors to treat with some of the assets they may receive. So what would obtain is that your will could include a clause which would name an individual (trustee) who would manage the assets, whether money, property and/or investments, until the child or children reaches an appropriate age. This is an extremely useful tool in ensuring children enjoy the full and appropriate benefits to be derived from the gifts of parents.

5. You're a micromanager by nature. We get it

One of the greatest advantages of making a will is that you can be as specific as you wish. You can leave someone all the money in a bank account or one cent from the account. The specificity of a will is manifested in various ways. You can grant someone a life tenancy to reside in a property for the remainder of their life or you can mandate your executors to ensure you are buried in a casket of your choosing. Wills have even been known to include wishes of how pets are to be cared for. Once your estate can accommodate the instruction, it ought to be carried out.

No, this is not number six, but it is equally important, if not more. The preparation of a will must be done in accordance with the Wills Act of Jamaica for the will to be valid. Hence, it is strongly advised that the services of an attorney-at-law be engaged when drafting a will. Contact an attorney and get it done today.

Josemar Belnavis, JP works with Lindsay Law Chambers. Contact him at josemar@llcja.com

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