Drafting a will is not as complicated as it is usually perceived, but it is an important matter to put one’s affairs in order. It presents an opportunity to posthumously have a say on how the assets you acquire are distributed to those around you. It is often a misconception that a will is an entitlement for the wealthy. Anyone can, and should, draft a will outlining their desires.
Important Terminologies used in a will
When drafting a will, specific terms are used to describe unique roles, actions and documents:
Testator/testatrix: a man or woman with the requisite capacity to write a will.
Testamentary freedom: the legal ability conferred on an individual to exercise control over their property.
Bequests: gifts conferred to dependents in a will.
Codicil: an additional document attached to a will that expresses subsequent wishes of a testator/testatrix. This document eliminates the need to create new wills.
Executor: a person appointed by a testator/testatrix to administer the estate.
Qualifications of a valid will
One can only draft a will if they have the testamentary capacity to write such a will. For the document to be actionable, it must be in writing. Additionally, it must be created by the testator/testatrix and attested to by competent witnesses.
Testamentary capacity means that a will can only be written by an adult, and the person writing the will should be of sound mind. Additionally, for a will to be valid, the assets given away must be in ownership of the testator/testatrix.
Can a will be amended?
It is important to note that a will is quite a flexible document. Having a written will doesn’t act as a bar to further change or revoke entirely.
A will can be edited through a codicil, updating the testator/testatrix’s wishes in the event of a major change. This change can be many things, for example, the acquisition or divestment of property.
A will may also need to be updated if a prospective beneficiary dies or if there is a change in status in the relationship between the drafter and one of the intended beneficiaries. This update would occur in the case of a divorce or separation from a partner or spouse.
Creating a will is not a tedious or complicated process. It is an important document that anyone can choose to create, giving them the ability to manage the disbursement of their assets after they pass.