Estate Planning – Do you have your affairs in order?
When should you make a Will? Now! There has never been a better time to consider estate planning. There is a misconception that Wills need to be made when one is older, ailing or when one has extensive property. No one wants to think about his/her death; but no one is immortal. It is therefore better to be prepared than not to be.
A Will is important to set out who you wish to receive your assets when you die and who you wish to step into your shoes (and represent your estate) as executor. If you die without a Will, the Cayman Islands law lays down strict rules about who gets your assets and who may apply to the Courts to represent your estate. A loved one may therefore be “disinherited” if you do not make a Will. An individual who you may not wish to represent your estate may be considered “best entitled” to apply to do so under the rules governing intestacy. A Will creates far greater control and certainty, which will very likely minimize potential family fighting and costly litigation.
A Will must be:
- in writing
- signed by you (the Testator) (or in special cases like physical illness, by someone in your presence and by your direction)
- signed by you (the Testator) in the presence of 2 witnesses
- signed by the witnesses in each other’s presence and in the presence of you (the Testator).
The witnesses should not be beneficiaries under your Will, as this will invalidate any gift to them. For good order, the witnesses should also not be closely connected to the beneficiaries which may suggest undue influence. You need not disclose the nature or contents of the Will to the witnesses, but they should understand it is a Will.
Wills can be changed as many times as you wish, once you have mental capacity. You can either create a new Will and revoke the old Will or make a Codicil to the Will.
Review your Will often and particularly when you have a significant change in circumstances, such as, the birth of a child, a divorce, a marriage, or the purchase of real estate or other substantial investment.
You need not be overwhelmed. The team at Higgs & Johnson stands ready to provide further advice.
The information contained in this article is provided for the general interest of our readers, but is not intended to constitute legal advice. Clients and the general public are encouraged to seek specific advice on matters of concern. This article can in no way serve as a substitute in such cases. Copyright ©2020 Higgs & Johnson. All rights reserved.