For many of us, talking about a will or even thinking about what will happen when we die is not a comfortable conversation to have – but it is important. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Angus Reid Institute, 51% of Canadians do not have a will in place, and nearly 1 in 6 Canadians have a will, but they are not up-to-date. A will is a legal document that makes very critical decisions about your assets, estate, and most importantly your family. If you are over 18 years of age and you have any one of these three things mentioned in the last statement, you should have a will, and this is why.
You need a will to ensure your assets and estate are distributed according to your wishes.
Without a will, the default law of your region will determine who receives which share of your estate. This can often prolong the settlement of your estate and assets, therefore costing your family more in legal and probate fees. If you are married and you die without a will, in most cases your spouse will inherit your assets. However, if you have a will, you can specify exactly who will receive what from your estate. A will gives you the power to add anyone as a beneficiary, as well as remove someone and disinherit them according to your final wishes.
If you have dependent children, you can determine who will assume custody in your will.
Whether you have just had a baby or you have a 17-year-old child still living under your roof, you should have a plan for your dependent children in the unexpected event of your passing. In the case that both you and your spouse/other guardian passes, your kids will need to be assigned a guardian. By outlining who will assume custody in your will, you can ensure your children are protected and that they are not raised by people you do not know or like. If you also want your children to have a share of your estate after your spouse, that will also need to be put into writing.
You can appoint someone you trust to wrap up your estate.
When you die without a will, the court will appoint someone to settle your estate. However, if you create a will beforehand, you can appoint someone you know and trust as your executor. They will be responsible for arranging your funeral, paying any outstanding bills, and distributing estate assets to those listed as beneficiaries. They are in charge of fulfilling your final wishes laid out in your will. It is a big responsibility for someone to take on, so be sure it is someone you 100% trust to carry out the role effectively. They are called the executor of your will.
Although your chances of an untimely or early death are unlikely, your family will be grateful for your advanced planning. Also be sure that once you create a will, that you update it when necessary. Get started on creating or updating your will today and work with us at Galbraith Family Law. We can help you draft and prepare a will, outline your powers of attorney and help with your estate planning. If you need legal advice or you want assistance with creating a will, book a consultation with us today at one of our three offices. To speak with someone at one of our three Toronto family law offices call 647-370-8965. To speak with someone at our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692, or for our Barrie office call 705-230-2734. We’re here to help you as much or as little as you need as you create or revise your will or estate plan and are committed to easing the process for you now and your family’s when the time comes.