According to a recent poll by a large financial institution, roughly half of all Canadians don’t have a Will. Research suggests that in the next 20 years an estimated $1 trillion is expected to be inherited by the next generation in Canada. This means that a large portion of this amount may end up being distributed by the court according to the Wills Estates and Succession Act, and not by the express wishes of Canadians.
In addition, even Canadians who have Wills may not have taken the time to consider whether or not they are up to date. For example, your personal circumstances might have changed since you had your Will prepared or your assets may have changed such that they will no longer be distributed in the way that you planned.
Big Challenges for Your Loved Ones
If you don’t have a Will or your Will is out of date then your passing could bring serious challenges to your loved ones. In British Columbia, if you pass without a Will you are said to have died “intestate”. This means, among other things, that you haven’t named any beneficiaries, decided who will administer your estate, or set out who will act as guardian of your minor children. In short, instead of you deciding how your estate is handled, the court might be deciding for you. Depending on the nature of your estate this can create some major hurdles for those you have left behind. Not having a Will can be both costly and time consuming. Finally, many people are unaware that these costs will be taken out of your estate thus leaving less to be divided amongst your beneficiaries.
If you have a Will in place, you can exercise some control over financial planning to minimize taxes and maximize the benefit you leave to your loved ones.
I don’t own much, do I even need a Will?
Some people feel that they don’t own enough to warrant creating a Will, but consider this: a Will does more than just outline wealth distribution. It makes it easier on your loved ones to finalize your estate. They have an understanding of your wishes and this can save them time, cost and red tape later. Finally, you might be overlooking what is possibly the most valuable asset you have: minor children. If you have minor children it is very important to have a Will since in the absence of a Will you won’t be able to control who makes financial decisions for your minor children or who will raise them.
We encourage anyone, regardless of how big or small their estate is, to consider making a legal Will for the sake of easing the burden on those you leave behind.
I have a Will, but I had it made 20 years ago – is it still good?
If you have a Will but haven’t looked at it in a while then there’s a chance it might be outdated. For example, if you’ve bought or sold major property, married or divorced, had a child, your children have moved from dependent to independent, or if your executor has moved away, become ill or passed away, then these are just a few of the reasons why you may need to review and update your Will.
If you aren’t sure if your Will needs to be updated, give us a call and we’d be happy to assist you in reviewing it for free.
But isn’t it a lot of work to make a Will?
Making a Will is not as daunting a task as most people think. We’re happy to walk you through the process and make it as straight forward as possible. While you might not like the idea of thinking about your death, you might be surprised by how much better you will feel when you know that you have your affairs in order. If you think you’d like to talk to a lawyer about whether you need a Will, we encourage you to call us. Someone from our Wills & Estates department would be happy to walk you through the process.
No one likes to think about their death, but a Will is a relatively inexpensive and painless gift you can give to your loved ones to make their lives just a bit easier when you pass.