Do you have a Will? Is it something you have thought of doing? There are many statistics floating around out there, and they all show a surprising number of people who do not have Wills, or if they do, they acknowledge that they are out of date.
We can’t tell you how many people come into our offices who have been putting off getting their Wills drafted for years, if not decades. You may be asking yourself if you really do need a Will, or if it is important given your current circumstances. “Need” may be a strong word, as it is not a legal requirement to have a Will, but yes, you should have one, and yes, you should ensure that it stays current and reflects your personal circumstances. Any person, regardless of the size of their estate, and whether or not they have a partner or children would benefit from having a Will.
So why should you have a Will? There are many reasons to have a Will, and we will focus on a few of the most common ones.
You get to choose how your estate will be divided (though there is a legal requirement to ensure your dependents are taken care of). You don’t have to wonder what will happen to your loved ones in the event of your death as you have specifically written out your instructions. You are the person who is best equipped to make the decisions regarding your estate.
If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the Wills and Succession Act, and neither you nor your loved ones will have control over what happens.
- Ensuring loved ones are taken care of
If you die without a Will and have minor children, who will take care of them? Especially if you are a single parent or if you and your partner die in a joint accident. Family members would have to step in to determine who should become guardian of those children, and people may not agree on who is the best choice. A Will puts that choice in your control and you can make certain you choose the people who share your values, will provide a safe an loving home, and are willing to take on that responsibility.
- Saving money
A Will can help to ensure that you use tax rollovers to named beneficiaries to the best advantage possible. This could save your estate a significant sum in taxes, ensuring that your beneficiaries reap those benefits.
Another reason that having a Will could save you money is that you may be able to avoid the requirement of getting a Grant of Administration. In certain circumstances, in order to deal with the assets (or debts) of a loved one, you are required either to have a Will or a Grant of Administration, which is a lengthy and sometimes costly process through the courts. Something as simple as getting rid of a vehicle in the name of a decease may not be possible for months without a Will.
If you currently have a Will, please ensure you review it every couple of years and after any significant event in your life (marriage, births, separation, death in the family) to ensure it still reflects your wishes.
While Wills are the most well-known estate planning documents, and deal with your matter in the event of your death, we would also encourage you to consider other estate planning documents, designed to protect yourself and your assets in case of incapacity. These are Personal Directives and Enduring Powers of Attorney. We will cover those more in depth in a future blog post, so stayed tuned!
Although we are a law firm, this blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is for informational or entertainment purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial or legal advice of any kind. You should consult with a lawyer before relying on any of the information contained in this blog post. We can be contacted at (403) 981 0700 to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers who can review the specific circumstances of your matter and provide you with personalized legal advice.