A farmer told me that the best of the crop should be kept for your children, the remainder should be offered for sale. He said it takes the average man 10 years to learn this lesson. He lamented that many men are not concerned with the well-being of their seeds once planted. These seeds do not receive water from their planter during the lifetime of the latter. It cannot reasonably be expected that the seeds will receive fertilizer following the planter’s death. For those farmers who are concerned with the future of the spouse and children, please read the following and take action forthwith.
While the realization of the need to prepare a Will is unpleasant, it is a necessary task because you are actively planning to provide for your family after your exit from this lifetime. Creating your Will is the first step in a two-step process. The second step is safely storing your Will. It is prudent to ensure that the Testator (person who creates the Will) has title to all the assets that the Testator purports to distribute.
What Is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that contains your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children after your demise. There are certain formalities that must be followed to ensure that the Will is valid and enforceable and ultimately that your wishes are carried out.
What can I do in a will?
Most people use a will to leave instructions about what should happen to their property after they die. However, you can also use a will to:
- Name an executor;
- Name guardians for children and their property;
- Decide how debts and taxes will be paid;
- Provide for pets;
- Serve as a backup to a living trust.
Why Do I Need to Create a Will?
Creating a Will gives you;
- Sole discretion over the distribution of your assets;
- The power to decide how your belongings, such as cars or family heirlooms, should be distributed;
- The power to direct the distribution of your financial investments;
- The ability to provide for the care of minor children;
- The opportunity to minimize tensions among survivors;
- Avoid relatives battling over your possessions
- The power to direct your assets to the charity of your choice.
- To leave your assets to an institution or an organization, a Will can see that your wishes are carried out.
How Do I Get a Will?
When you are ready to prepare a will, compile a list of your assets and debts. Be sure to include the contents of safe deposit boxes, items of sentimental value, family heirlooms and other assets that you wish to transfer to a particular person or entity. If your estate is substantial (ranging in the millions of dollars) or your situation is legally complex, you may wish to enlist the services of an attorney at law.
While you can create a Will for yourself, there are certain formalities set out by the law.
Under section 42 of the Wills and Probate Act Chap. 9:03 of the Laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a Will must be made in writing, signed at the end of the document by the person making the Will, A testator must be 21 years or over. The Will must be witnessed by two persons who will also sign at the foot of the Will and in the presence of each other at the same time and in the presence of the testator. Each person signing the Will must have the mental capacity’ to sign the Will. An intended beneficiary must not be used as a witness to attest to the Will.
Can I Change My Will after it is created?
Changing your will is easy:
- Simply write a new will to replace the old one or;
- Make an addition using an amendment known as a codicil.
Who should I name as my executor?
You can name your spouse, mature offspring, or another trusted friend or relative as your executor. If your affairs are complicated, it may be prudent to name an attorney at law or someone with legal and financial expertise. You can also name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.
One of the most important things your Will can do is empower your executor to pay your bills and deal with debt collectors. Make sure the wording of your will allows for this, and also gives your executor leeway to take care of any related issues that aren’t specifically outlined in your will.
Where should I keep my will?
- The Probate Registry at the Probate Court- usually requires your original Will before it can process your estate, so it is important to keep the document safe yet accessible.
- A bank safe deposit box that only you can get into, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A waterproof and fireproof safe in your house is a good alternative.
- Your attorney at law or someone you trust should keep signed copies in case the original is destroyed. Signed copies can be used to establish your intentions. However, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, and without it there is s no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.
How often does a will need to be updated?
You can update your Will as often as you wish. The only version of your will that matters is the most current valid one in existence at the time of your death. A rule of thumb: Review your will every two or three years to be safe.
How can a Will be revoked?
A Will can be revoked by a valid marriage as well as the signing and witnessing of a new Will.
What happens after death?
The Will is probated. Probate is a process whereby the validity of a Will is determined.
What happens when the deceased left no will behind (Letters of Administration)
If you do not have a Will, you die intestate. In such a case, the State will oversee the distribution of your assets.
Attention to all farmers: Unless you want the Estate Owner to dictate your affairs and distribute your crops after your death, get your farm in order.
Last updated 25th March 2020
Antoinette Sydney LLB LEC CAMLFC CFRMP is an author and entrepreneur based in Trinidad and Tobago.
Amazon ebooks: https://www.amazon.com/author/antoinettesydney
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