A deceased estate is comprised of assets such as real estate and cash that belonged to a person who has died. If they have died intestate – without a Will – their assets cannot be distributed to the family, who would be the usual beneficiaries, without going through an often long court process, which also must be paid for out of the estate assets. Thus, it is imperative for any person, but more so for a businessperson, to ensure their Will is made out with the help of a solicitor so that everything is done legally and there will be no hold-ups in the proceedings.
However, you have to remember that if you get married, divorced or remarried, your Will is not considered current and it must be upgraded to include your present circumstances. If you want your business and other assets to go to your loved ones in the way you have decided, it is essential to always upgrade your Will when there is a change in your personal circumstances. Our lawyers are highly qualified to do this for you when you consult with us about it.
We also have a great deal of experience in administering deceased estates in the case where the person died without making a Will. Or it might be that the person named as executor of the Will now doesn’t want to, or for some reason cannot carry out his or her duties. In this case they can sign a ‘renunciation’ declaration and our lawyers will then file the declaration along with the application for Probate with the Supreme Court.
When a person owns a business with many assets it is important to ensure that distribution can be carried out quickly and with as little loss of assets as possible. You can ensure this is the case by making out a Will, but you might want to consider having certain assets in two names, such as a partner in the business or your spouse’s name as well as your own. This avoids the assets being ‘frozen’, which is likely to be the case if they are only in one name or if you don’t have a Will.
When assets are frozen it means no one can get them until the court says so, which can take months to sort out. So your partner or spouse would not be able to carry on conducting the business or even be able to pay creditors or employees. That is one reason why it’s important to consult with your lawyers and get that Will sorted out as soon as possible, if it has not been done as yet.
For people with no business and fewer assets it is perhaps not quite so essential, but you still need to have at least one bank account in both names so the remaining spouse will be able to pay debts and have enough money to live on until the estate is settled.
When you have a Will, it is much easier and less costly to settle the estate and this is important because there is enough emotional stress when a spouse dies without the added worry of not having access to the finances that are legally yours – or will be when the estate is sorted out. Having lawyers work with you to organise your estate the way you want it before you pass is the best way to avoid giving your family additional stress and hassle.