Death and dying are probably the most uncomfortable topics of discussion — especially among family members — but they still exert an inescapable influence on personal decisions and behaviour even if we prefer not to talk about them.
Nowhere is this influence more evident than when people make plans for the future. In fact, the importance of thinking about what happens after we’re gone is heightened if there are loved ones involved, especially vulnerable persons and minors.
Wills are a logical solution to a difficult situation
In my role as a notary public, I find myself on the “frontline”, so to speak, of these existential moments, when people begin to consider seriously what will happen after their passing.
Thankfully, our society offers various legal instruments that allow people to protect the things they worked hard for, safeguard the well-being of their descendants, and ensure that everything they hold dear is taken care of upon death.
All this can be achieved through the relatively inexpensive and straightforward process of publishing a will. You can find more information about wills and inheritance here, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions about this essential service.
The benefits of making a will
During times when society faces a collective difficulty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, issues of mortality come to the fore and notaries are inundated with requests to publish wills.
However, it should not take a deadly virus for clients to consider making a will. In this post, I shall list several beneficial reasons for making a will to prove why it is such an important aspect of long-term personal and family estate planning.
Control the distribution of your assets
Dying intestate, without a will, allows the estate of the deceased to be disposed of according to the law of intestate succession — the standard law which applies by default, instead of their wishes. A will allows people to make these decisions themselves and control who receives the inheritance they leave behind.
It is also possible to nominate an executor in the will, a person who is appointed to distribute assets according to the instructions left, as well as pay any outstanding debts or taxes.
By having the testator’s wishes written down explicitly, the notary and relatives can execute them as they have been communicated, thus protecting the estate from legal contestations and saving the heirs time and money.
Regulate property acquired in Malta
This is especially relevant to foreigners who have purchased a property in Malta but do not reside on the islands. By drafting a Maltese will, the property owners will be in a better position to control how property in Malta is disposed of among their heirs.
Make it easier for relatives to deal with personal affairs
Having a will helps avoid all kinds of complications that could arise after one’s death, and which very often have to be handle by the distraught relatives. A very important case is the appointment of a guardian who will look after minor children and vulnerable relatives.
Support charities and other causes
An important use of wills is to make donations to charitable foundations or other causes that a person has supported throughout their life. Benefactors can ensure the continued operation and success of these organisations even after their demise.
Enjoy greater peace of mind and security
Both you and your family will feel more at ease by having a plan in place that clearly shows how future affairs should be handed. Moreover, the benefits can also be felt while a person is still alive since a will can be reviewed and updated to reflect the testator’s situation and their wishes as they change over time.
It’s never too early to plan for tomorrow
Publishing a will is a delicate process, which comes with a lot of responsibility for notaries. It is for this reason, and all the benefits listed above, that I encourage clients, even younger individuals and couples, to make a will early on in their life.
There’s no need to wait for a pandemic or disaster to strike! A will is truly one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect our interests and those of our loved ones when we are not able to keep doing it ourselves.