5 things to consider when writing a will

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A will is a legal document that sets forth one’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property and the care of any minor after their death. If one dies without a will, those wishes may not be carried out.

Further, one’s heirs may end up spending additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle their affairs after they are gone, according to Investopedia.

The thought of writing one’s will does not have to be seen as a scary subject to approach because it appears as though the owner is about to die rather. Writing one’s will way ahead of time is an empowering move that helps a person collate and organise their assets.

Over time, the evidence of the consequences of not having a will has paraded itself across media houses: families in strife over the estate of a deceased.

Although it is possible to prepare a will by oneself, it is important to have the document witnessed to reduce the chances of it being successfully challenged later.

To make writing a will easy, here are some tips to consider.

Clearly state your debts and credits

Experts in this area argue that it is not possible to give what a person does not have. So, having a property inventory is important not just for the things a person has, but also the debts that the person may leave after death.

A legal expert in commercial law, Kayode Sanni, noted everyone should have a proper inventory of what they own. He said they also needed to keep an inventory of the debt owed to them and also the debt they owe people.

“In a case where a person writing their will is being owed some money, if they didn’t document it or keep a record of it and who it should go to, when the money comes, nobody would be able to claim it after the person dies.

“This also applies to the money that he owes people. If the person owes anyone, it must be documented and inventoried so that the surviving beneficiaries would not be unjustly harassed in a bid to recover the money after the death,” he added.

Keep a record of your digital assets

Keeping a record of one’s digital assets is important. This information is expected to be passed down from the owner to others because the cost of going through the legal way is huge.

In cases where the person owns some digital assets like cryptocurrencies, they should store the private keys to the digital assets somewhere safe or on a flash drive that can be kept with the lawyer who will read the will.

Sanni noted that it could also be filled alongside the will at the probate registry so that when the time comes, the beneficiary would get the digital asset easily without going through hassles.

“This is because if you have digital assets, to get a probate order for the digital asset site, even the cost of serving them a letter is going to be humongous. The best thing is to make a provision in the will that addresses the storage of the keys to those digital assets for easy retrieval of those digital assets for whoever the beneficiary is,” he said.

Cryptocurrency is not the only digital asset there is. Others include digital photos, music or movie files, digital documents (like Word, Excel, or PDF files), email accounts, online storage accounts (like Dropbox or Google Drive), social media accounts, and blogs or websites.

Beneficiaries should be clearly known

It is not just enough that beneficiaries are known, they must be clearly known to the lawyer handling the estate.

Not too young to write a will

Writing one’s will is not just for older people, Sanni said. Young people with assets could also consider writing a will as well.

“We have a misconception in Nigeria about writing a will. Once a person is of legal age and owns properties, nothing is stopping them from preparing or writing his will.

“It is not until the person has children or grandchildren that he decides to make a will. You can be 20 years old and have assets and money. You don’t have to wait until you have children or are married before you write a will,” he added.

A will helps keep track of one’s assets

More than just for distribution purposes, writing a will helps a person keep track of their assets as they grow. Writing a will helps a person to keep his assets in focus. Like a part of accounting, it is also a form of tracking someone’s finances.

“Perchance something happens tomorrow, who do I want this to go to, how do I want my stuff to be managed, do I want my properties to go to nobodies, and what legacy am I leaving behind? These are the questions that will pique a person to write a will, it doesn’t mean that the person is dying. You can do it ahead of time for the next 30, 40, 50 years. You only have to update it regularly,” he said.

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