In my 20 years of practice, I have drawn up hundreds of last wills and testaments. Older clients and those with highly organised temperaments, often complete the entire will-making process within a 7-10 days. Younger clients, occupied with children and/or busy professional lives, may take a few weeks to complete the process.
Then there are the clients who somehow cannot get around to signing their will, no matter how many reminders they receive and offers of support are made. Years may pass in this limbo state, of having a professionally drawn will that is never executed.
There is of course a whole other set of people who will never make a will in the first place.
I puzzled over why some people avoid making a will or avoid completing the process by signing it. I undertook some broad-ranging research and this is what I discovered:
- Death and money are taboo topics for many. Thinking about them is stressful. We may prefer to keep the fact of one’s own mortality and one’s financial reality, out of mind. Making a will compels one to face both of these topics face on.
- A will is easy to put off. There may be no immediately apparent urgency, when we are young and/or healthy. There is no looming deadline (other than one’s death or loss of capacity). There are no penalties for dropping the ball (other than the troubles left behind for loved ones). When life is busy and demanding, one’s will tends to stick around the bottom of the To Do list. For those of us who tend to procrastinate or live in “crisis management” mode, a will is easy to neglect.
- Making a will may appear to involve only unpleasant things like paperwork, legalese and numbers. On signing their will, many a young client congratulates themselves on successful “adulting”. To many, the process looks too onerous and overwhelming to contemplate. It need not be unpleasant or unduly onerous, however.
- When one’s family is complicated, making decisions about the division of one’s estate can fill one with uncertainty. One may have a spouse and children shared with that spouse, as well as children from a previous relationship. One child may have greater needs than other children. Difficult decisions may have to be made. You may feel torn and avoid dealing with the matter at all.
- If you have rifts in your family, making a will may place these in focus. You may worry about bad feelings resulting from your decisions about your estate. Neglecting to make a will can even be a passive-aggressive act in some cases.
- Couples may differ on issues such as who will be entrusted with their children should something happen to them both. Uncomfortable conversations can produce a reluctance to make wills.
- Some people are superstitious and feel that, by making a will, they are tempting fate. One wonders how leaving one’s affairs in disarray, could delay or prevent one’s death!
- Some feel that they own too little to need a will. This is seldom the case.
- Some may not be aware that failing to make a will could horribly complicate their estate. This may be a hard lesson learned by their heirs once they are gone.
- Finally, guilt at putting off one’s will can make it even harder to take steps to make a will.
You can consult a professional will drafter for help with many of the issues preventing you from making a will. We tend to feel that our problems are unique. Professionals in the industry can advise you how to navigate difficult waters, based on their experience and expertise. For a straightforward, kind and sensible will-making process, contact Rose Attorneys at email@example.com, or 074 697 2048.