Column: Valentine’s Day ‘Say It With A Will’

February 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

Harry Kessaram Bermuda October 2017[Written by Harry Kessaram]

Valentine’s Day is soon upon us. One does not usually associate love with death, except in Romeo and Juliet, but the day of love is actually an appropriate time to think about making a will. Why? No-one knows when their time will come, and one way to show you care about your loved ones is to make provision for them after you are gone.

If you pass away without a will, the law dictates who gets your estate. In some cases, this could mean that things may not go as you would expect or want, for example if you are on your second marriage with children from the first, or unmarried but with a life-partner.

Even if you are still young, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. If you have a young family, consideration should be given to appointing a guardian who would look after your children if both you and your parenting partner die together.

A good estate plan will also address the manner in which your assets would be administered for their benefit, for example to provide for housing and education. Life insurance also plays a useful part in any young parent’s estate plan, especially if you have a mortgage, because the insurance proceeds could help pay off the loan if you die prematurely.

When it comes to making a will, it is always a good idea to consult a professional who specializes in the area of estate planning. Legal advice could help minimize threats to your estate. You might be surprised who can make claims against your estate once you are gone. Apart from creditors, such persons can include former spouses and anyone you may have been supporting while alive.

A professionally drafted estate plan could save your chosen heirs from the heartache and cost of having to defend an action in court and can reduce the chances of any unmerited claims succeeding. And it is not just about ensuring your assets go to the people [or charities] of your choice, but achieving your goal in a tax efficient manner, thereby maximizing the amount they inherit. A little bit of good legal advice could save your heirs a lot of money.

The task of estate planning can be simple or complicated depending on your personal circumstances and wishes. Whatever your situation, it is not fair on your loved ones to avoid this issue. There is no better way to show you care about them than to make a will now. It is the considerate and loving thing to do.

- Harry Kessaram is a lawyer in the Real Estate and Property Development department of Conyers Dill & Pearman.

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