Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
You will need executors. These are the people who will prove your will in the High Court via the Probate Registry, collect in your assets, settle your debts and funeral expenses and then distribute your estate to the beneficiaries.
They are also responsible for safeguarding your assets during the administration period.
This includes such matters as ensuring your house or other property is properly insured and protected so far as possible from risk of burglary.
By the 'administration period' we mean the period between your death and the final receipts from the beneficiaries being given to the executors in exchange for their cheques.
The end of the administration period is generally taken to be when the residue is ascertained.
All that means in practical terms is that all liabilities are known and settled and the amount left over to pass to the beneficiaries is known.
At the end of the administration period executors change hats and become known as trustees in those instances where an ongoing trust arises. If you have left money to a child, for example, they will then become responsible for investing it and looking after it until the child attains the age at which he is to receive it.
Being an executor is not an easy task.
It is often time-consuming and carries a great deal of responsibility. The amount of time taken to administer an estate will, of course, vary according to how complicated the affairs of the deceased were. The number and type of assets will vary from estate to estate.
Matters such as outstanding tax returns will also make a difference.
Obviously a very small and straightforward estate will not take much time to sort out but the office of executor still carries legal responsibilities. For example, executors can become personally liable for your credit card bills and other debts if they do not follow correct procedures.
There is a simple way to avoid this situation arising which will be explained later.
It follows that you need to pick the right people for the job. They should not, for example, be people who become panicky or confused when confronted by official forms. You will need to be sure that they are honest and trustworthy and capable of understanding your instructions.
It is always advisable to ask them before putting their names in your will.
Note that an executor may also benefit under your will and often a sum of money is left to an executor to recompense him for the time and trouble involved in executing the will. If you choose to do this, the gift should be expressed to apply only if the executor takes up his duties.
This does not preclude you from also making your executor a beneficiary of part of your estate on top of the special legacy for proving it.
If you wish your chosen executor to have a legacy, whether or not he acts as such after your death, any gift should be expressed as given `regardless of whether he takes up his duties as executor'. A lay executor may not charge for his services but may claim out-of-pocket expenses.