For many, the idea of making a Will can be new or scary. For some others, they have given some thought to the idea and left it at that, a mere idea. Another subset said: “I have no property so why bother?” The answer is simple. If you own property or have young children a Will is a critical document for protecting your family and ensuring that your final wishes for your minor children and estate are respected.
A Will is the only way to ensure that your final wishes are respected and dispels any doubts as to your intentions. In the absence of a Will the law determines who inherits your estate.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document in which a person states their final wishes and directs how they wish to dispose of their property following their death.
Who Can Make a Will?
Any person of full age (eighteen and over) with capacity to make rational decisions can make a Will.
What Can I do in my Will?
Among other things, you can –
- Appoint an executor to take charge of your estate and effect your directives
- Appoint Trustees if you have minor children
- Give instructions for funeral arrangements
- Give cash gifts
- Direct who your property should go to and in what proportion
- Make charitable gifts
- Leave instructions for your digital assets (facebook, email accounts photos, videos etc.)
What property can be included in my Will?
All the assets that belong to you personally: objects (e.g jewellery), movable property (furniture, vehicles, paintings, etc.) and immovable property (houses, apartments, land, etc.).
Types of Wills
In Saint Lucia there are three different types of Wills.
Holographic Will – a will written and signed by the testator and requires neither notaries nor witnesses and requires no particular form.
English Will – must be in writing, signed by the testator, or his mark (subject to specified formalities) in the presence of two competent witnesses one of whom must be a Justice of the Peace all signing in the presence of one another.
Notarial Will – a will made before two notaries or before a notary and two witnesses and signed by the testator, the notary or notaries and the witnesses as the case may be in the presence of each other. The original will remain with the notary who issues a certified copy to the testator.
Wills must be carefully drafted to avoid doubts as to your intention and leaving room for multiple interpretations. Wills are best drafted by persons who have been trained to do so. A Will must also satisfy various rules established by law to be valid. Therefore, drafting by a qualified professional is all the more important.
Can I amend / change my Will once it is executed?
A Will takes effect only upon death. If you want to amend your Will you can do so either by redrafting a will and revoking the old one in the case of major changes or by executing a Codicil to your Will in the case of less significant changes or additions. Your Legal Practitioner can best advise you as to which is the better option for you.
How will my family know I have made a Will?
As there is no registry of Wills in St. Lucia, you should let your executor know that you have made a Will and the name of your legal practitioner. As your Will takes effect only on death, your legal practitioner will only disclose your will to your executor upon production of a death record so you need not be concerned about disclosure of your wishes during your lifetime.
By making a Will you can be sure that you are in control of the important decisions regarding your estate and you can save your loved ones much time, effort and money.
At Athena Law, we understand that making these decisions are not always the easiest. A legacy planning attorney can help you gain clarity on your options so that you can make the decisions which will allow you peace of mind as you plan for the future.