Estate planning is a complex conversation, and it often revolves around married couples. When you are married, your belongings will typically go to your spouse after you die. However, preparing a last will and testament looks different for everyone. And unfortunately, those that are single are sometimes left out of this very important discussion. Because of this, single people may not have all the knowledge required to make an informed decision regarding their assets.
Of course, the most significant aspect of a will is that it allows you to determine what will happen to your assets once you are gone. This usually includes all your physical possessions, along with your investments and bank accounts. However, you may also have some items that hold sentimental value, even if they are not worth much monetarily. These items may be more difficult for your loved ones to sort through when you have passed if they are not already outlined in a will. For example, you may have a particularly special record collection that, while it might not be able to sell for much, both of your siblings want. Having a will makes it so that they can honour your wishes. Knowing that they are doing right by you can help with the grieving process.
Who should make a will?
There are many reasons for why people do not make wills. For example, it often does not cross the minds of those who are young and in good health. Those who are older also may not see a need for it if they are single and without children. However, leaving a will until the last minute or never planning on making one benefits no one. This is a grave oversight, especially for those who fall under any of the following categories:
- Your net worth is positive, meaning you have no outstanding debts and your possessions are financially valuable
- You own anything worth a large sum of money, like a house, a car, jewellery, etc.
- There are specific people that you want to ensure do not inherit any of your assets
- There are individuals or charities that you would like to give financial gifts to
- You have pets that will need looking after
- You have co-signed a lease or have incurred a joint debt
- Your children are young, and you would like to name a legal guardian for them
As aforementioned, everyone’s situation is unique to them. However, even if you have few assets and believe there would be no reason to make plans for them, the legal protections of a will are still beneficial to single people. For more reasons, see here.
The benefits of speaking with a professional
In the unfortunate case that you pass away before making a will, then the government deems you intestate. When a person is deemed intestate, it is more difficult to determine who inherits their estate, as there are certain rules that must be followed when divvying up their property. Of course, if you are married, your spouse will be the inheritor. If you are single, then your estate will be equally divided amongst your children. However, if there are no children, then your possessions will be left to other close relatives. Close relatives include people like your parents, siblings, nephews and/or nieces, etc. Unmarried partners and close friends will be left out.
Therefore, speaking with a qualified advisor who will take your situation into account is an important part of the process of drafting your will. If you own rental properties or have made significant returns on investments, then having an experienced professional to help you devise a plan is imperative. This is also necessary because without a witness, the plan for your estate becomes invalid. Wills go through a probate process—that is, a process which determines its validity—and your financial advisor often acts as executor throughout this process.
Many take it upon themselves to make their wills and do not consult with an expert. While it is possible to do this, there have been many cases where those people have failed to account for all of their assets. Hiring someone to help you with this prevents you from leaving money or property that is unaccounted for. There have also been cases where an individual’s named beneficiary dies before them, and they have not prepared for this. An advisor will put a plan in place should anything unexpected happen.
You change. So should your will.
The last important factor to keep in mind is that situations change, and our wills should reflect these changes. For example, if you were married but have been through a divorce since first drafting your will, this should be accounted for. Similarly, if you wrote a will as a single person but have since been married, then your will should reflect this change in relationship status. You may also end up becoming a parent or acquiring new assets, all of which need to be addressed within your will.
To ensure that your plans are up to date and legally valid, you should review your will annually. Keep in mind, though, that any edits will need be formally acknowledged in order to be legally valid. Again, having an advisor go through these complex, bureaucratic processes for you not only saves time and hassle, but it prevents you from making any detrimental errors.
If you would like to discuss the plans for your estate with one of our advisors, contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We look forward to creating a plan tailored to your specific needs.