A Will is as its name suggests: a statement of the wishes (or will) of the person making the Will, to be carried out upon their death.
The person who makes a Will is called a testator.
The person who gets a gift under the will is called a beneficiary.
The person who administers the Will and ensures that the wishes of the testator are carried out is called a trustee/executor.
Why do I need a Will? I’m not rich…..!
Many people believe the sole purpose of a Will is to distribute the huge wealth of the testators. While this is one (and the most obvious) purpose there are others. These include:
i. Arrange for the care and guardianship of children under eighteen;
ii. Protect the assets of children derived under the will from their spouses in the event of a divorce ;
iii. Ensure the peace of mind and sanity of those left behind;
iv. Family preservation. Very often deep divisions and terrible conflicts arise in the absence of a Will where all the potential beneficiaries seek to get what they feel is rightfully theirs and what, in their opinion, “Daddy would have wanted”.
Why can’t I do my own Will?
You can. You can also perform surgery on yourself and you can build your own house. However, the reason you don’t do these things is because there are trained professionals who have experience in these areas and will be able to predict and deal with important issues that would not occur to a lay person. For example, most people do not realize that if a beneficiary witnesses a Will, the Will is valid but the gift to that beneficiary is void.
Will Kits have one singular weakness. You cannot question them and even if you do the answers (FAQs) are not tailored to your specific needs. For example, a Will Kit cannot tell you whether a particular provision under a Will is valid in Jamaica as well as Ontario.
A Will should be prepared on your behalf by a lawyer. Other persons purport to provide this service but you wouldn’t go to a carpenter to clean your teeth……..
As soon as possible. Once you own any assets and especially if you have children you should make a Will and have it revised every three years.