A will is a written document that speaks for you after you die. It can communicate how you want your property and assets to be distributed; name a guardian for your children if you pass away before they reach adulthood; and leave specific instructions like arrangements for your funeral.
Who needs a will?
Anyone with property and assets should have a will, and it should be updated as life changes due to things like marriage, having children, a death in the family, divorce or property acquisition. You should review your will regularly to make sure it continues to reflect your life and wishes.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you die without a will, administering your estate is often longer and more expensive. The law in Canada defines this as dying “intestate,” which means there are no instructions on how to divide or distribute your assets. How the government proceeds then depends on the laws in your province.
How to make a will
Making a will doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. There are three common ways to create one:
1) Write your own. A will is legal if it’s written and signed in your own handwriting. It doesn’t have to be signed by witnesses. However, problems can occur if it's not clearly understood. Also, if you're not familiar with the law and include instructions that are contrary to what the law permits, your wishes may not be carried out.
2) Have it written by a paralegal. This is a cost-effective option, provided the contents are straightforward.
3) Have it written by a lawyer. This is usually the safest route, particularly if you have considerable assets. A lawyer is qualified to write wills that clearly state your wishes, so there are no misunderstandings.
Once you have a will, keep it somewhere safe. You can store it at home with other important documents, ideally in a fireproof box, but make sure your executor knows where to find it. If you had a lawyer draw it up for you, they will also keep a copy with their records.
Do you have life insurance?
There’s a life insurance plan for every income and life stage. It can range from covering final expenses to protecting the growth of your estate.
If you have questions about making your will or how life insurance can protect your family, contact your Financial Advisor.