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What do Pablo Picasso, Prince & Stieg Larsson have in common?


What do Pablo, Prince and Stieg have in common?

Apart from the fact that they were all very famous, they also all died without leaving a will.  

Why?

Well, that's the $64 million question everyone has been asking, especially after Prince's recent passing.

The truth is we will never really know. My guess is that it's probably the same reason many of us don’t: they didn’t want to think about dying. Yes, you do have to think about dying but it happens to the best of us and ultimately by having an up to date Will you are ensuring that you make one thing easier on your family and friends at a very stressful time. 

The death of a loved one is stressful for surviving family and friends. Having  up to date estate planning, including a valid Will in place, is one way to minimise stress to your loved ones at an already stressful time.

If you have an estate plan in place, there is very little that needs to be completed, from a legal point of view, urgently. 

The only urgent legal things are: 

  • Knowing who is executor is, so that decisions about burial and cremation can be made; and
  • Knowing if your Will specifies you want to be cremated (as if know to your Executor, this must be followed).

Practically, if you don’t have funeral insurance or haven’t prepaid for a funeral, then the Executor is usually able to access funds to pay the reasonable funeral expenses from your bank account.

Your Executor should also secure your estate assets.  Things such as jewellery, which may be subject to a specific gift, can disappear or get ‘lost’, so the Executor needs to make sure that your estate assets are physically secure. 

Nothing else is urgent.  A decision about if your Executor needs a Grant of Probate to administer your estate can be made later – especially as no administration should take place in the first month after you have passed away.

It surprises many people and unlike on TV, there is no official ‘reading of the will'.  Rather certain people, including beneficiaries in your current and any previous Will, are entitled to a copy of your Will.  They can then read this in their own time.  (We usually have a meeting with your Executor(s) about a month after your passing, and after the death certificate issues, to discuss the Executors obligations and likely steps that will be needed to administer your estate.  Past experience has taught us that meetings with beneficiaries who are no Executors is not usually productive or satisfying for the beneficiaries.  Why – beneficiaries legal rights are limited and only vest once the administration is complete.  As this takes at least six months, our immediate attention is to assist your Executor administer your estate so that the beneficiaries can (eventually) receive their entitlement.

While your Will should reflect your wishes and you can do what you wish, a limited group of people can ‘challenge’ your Will.  For example if you have specifically excluded someone from your Will (e.g. a child) or think that a beneficiary will want more than you want to give them, a ‘challenge’ may occur.  While you can’t prevent a ‘challenge’ being made, you can (and should) consider what options you have during your life time to mitigate the impact of a ‘challenge’.  This is a complicated area of law but along with the creation of Testamentary Trusts, is an emerging area of succession law. 

Make it easier on your loved ones by ensuring your estate plan is current – as it will be one less thing your loved ones need to worry about in an already challenging time.

Call Fiona or Andrew today if you wish to update your estate plan – we’re happy to help. 


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