Welcome to the third post in the series about crafting your will according to the life stage you find yourself in. Your will is a living document that should adapt as you move through life. It is important that you ensure your will adapts. If you don’t, you may pass away leaving behind a will that does not fully deal with who you leave behind.
But first, do you know how to write a will in general? If not, check out our checklist explaining how to write a will. This checklist is a great starting point for understanding the process of writing a will.
If you find yourself in the life stage of being legally single and without a partner, you can read the relevant “How To” here. If you are legally single and have a life partner, you can click here. Even if you are not in those life stages, we recommend reading those tips as well. Some may be applicable to you in your current life stage.
This blog post will provide you with some tips on writing a will when married but without children, with specific thought given to the spouse you leave behind.
Married in Community of Property
Being married in community of property means that you and your spouse jointly own your entire estate. Your will only applies to your share of the joint estate, which is 50%.
You can leave everything to your spouse, then matters are easy: The joint estate becomes your spouse’s estate.
However, if you leave anything to anyone other than your spouse, you need to keep in mind the following. You and your spouse own your joint estate equally, each owns half an undivided share. This means that every asset in your estate is co-owned by you and your spouse: you each own 50% of each asset. An asset that you might bequeath to a third party is therefore still co-owned by your spouse by 50%. If you decide to bequeath anything to a third party, you have to be careful in how you do so, so as not to prejudice your spouse.
Married in community of property
Being married out of community of property means that you and your spouse own separate estates.
If you are married under the accrual system, you need to be aware that the accrual claim will affect your estate. Accrual claims are settled before your estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries of your will. If you accrued more than your spouse over the course of your marriage, then your spouse has an accrual claim against your estate. However, if you accrued less than your spouse, your spouse will owe your estate. Also note that a life policy taken out on your life that pays into your estate can influence the accrual claim.
If you leave your entire estate to your spouse, the accrual system (if you have it) should pose no problem. Leaving your entire estate to your spouse is of course a great way to look after your spouse.
What if you wish to bequeath certain assets to people other than your spouse? How then should you look after your spouse? If you are the spouse with the greater earning capacity, you should make provision in your will for your spouse of lesser means. You want to ensure that your spouse is looked after when you are gone. You can do this by taking out a life policy or bequeathing certain assets to your spouse.
Still wondering about writing a will when married with no children? We highly recommend getting professional help in writing up a will. It avoids many unwanted complications that could leave your loved ones in a difficult situation after you have gone. If you do require any advice or assistance in writing a will, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].