It is that time of year again. The time when we all make New Year’s Resolutions for things that we know we really ought to do, but never quite get around to. We all know the popular ones. Go to the gym, lose weight, spend more time with our family. However, there is one New Year’s Resolution that we should all make sure that we keep. Have you made a Will? We should prioritize “making a Will“. Before you head to the gym and pay to join again, make sure that you protect your family and loved ones by writing a Will.
So many people do not make a Will, but really there is no excuse not to. It is one of the most important things that you should do to make sure that your family and friends are provided for in the event of your death.
No one likes to think about their own mortality. Perhaps that is the reason why most people do not make a Will. We do not want to think about the inescapable reality that one day our days will come to an end. However, if we ignore this and die without a Will, this can have very serious consequences for the ones that we leave behind. Just because most Canadians have not made a Will, does not mean that you have to be one of them.
Here are some of the reasons why making a Will should be at the top of your list of New Year’s Resolutions.
You Are Never Too Young to Make a Will
The younger you are, the less likely you are to have thought about making a Will. In your 20s life seems to stretch ahead of us for eternity. Most people will of course live a long and healthy life, but unfortunately nothing is certain in life. What people tend not to realize is that your 20s are the times when it usually starts to become most important to think about making a Will. We tend to make life changes such as getting married and having children. Financial assets tend to increase. It is never too early to start thinking about making a Will.
Dying Intestate Can Bring Huge Problems for Your Loved Ones
Some people mistakenly think that if they do not make a Will, the people that they want to inherit, will get your assets any way. Unfortunately, in many cases this isn’t true. If you die without a Will there is no way of ensuring that your wishes will be carried out.
If you do not make a will your estate will become subject to the laws of the Province where you lived. The Province takes over. Provincial law will determine who inherits your estate and the courts will appoint an Executor. But it will take time.
If more people realized the consequences of dying without making a Will, many more of us would make sure they have one. Provincial laws vary, but generally the people who will inherit your estate are likely to be spouses, legally recognized domestic partners and blood relatives. Friends and charities are not provided for by the rules of intestacy. You have no control over who inherits your estate if you do not make a Will. The Province will decide. Do you really want that to happen?
Don’t make assumptions
Most people wrongly assume that if they were to die without a Will, their entire estate would simply pass to their spouse. However, this is a dangerous misconception.
Taking New Brunswick as an example. If a married person dies without making a will, the law gives half of the estate to the spouse and half to the children. This means that property may potentially have to be sold in order for each beneficiary to receive their share. It is a distribution plan that is rarely used by people who do prepare their Will.
Making a Will is even more important if you have a partner who you are not married to and you want to provide for them in the event of your death. The law of many Provinces does not consider unmarried couples on intestacy. You could have been living with your partner all your adult life, but if you die without making a Will they could be left out in the cold and inherit nothing. It does not matter that you consider yourself as “effectively married”. In the eyes of the law you aren’t. Making a Will to take care of your partner is essential.
Making a Will Does Not Need to Be Expensive
Many people mistakenly believe that making a Will is expensive. Some people are put off by thinking that the costs of making a Will are prohibitive. This is not true. While some people with large and complicated estates may still need the services of an estate planner or an attorney, most people can make a will quickly and affordably.
At LegalWills.ca you can prepare your own Will in about 20 minutes for less that $40. Think about this. You could either buy a dozen or so family members and friends a drink at your local coffee shop. Or you could spend the money or securing their future after you have gone. Which makes the most sense?
Making a Will Can Be Quick and Easy
Others may be put off making a will because they think it is going to be time consuming and difficult. It really doesn’t have to be these days. At LegalWills.ca we take you through the process. It is very easy to make a Will online. We will take you through a series of questions so that you can decide what you want to happen to your assets when you die. It is a very easy and quick process.
You Can Appoint Guardians for your Minor Children
Wills are not just about money. It is particularly important that you make a Will if you have minor children. You can appoint guardians for your children in your Will. This is an extremely important provision to have. You may think that in the event of your untimely death your sister or parents would step in to bring up your children. However, you cannot be certain of this. Making a Will allows you to firstly go through the process of deciding who would be the best person to care for your children if you were no longer around.
Always pick a guardian very carefully and make sure that the person that you appoint has agreed to it. There are many things that you need to think about when you appoint a guardian. Some things to consider are the age of the guardian, their family structure, their existing relationship with your children and their general views and outlook on how children should be raised.
If you do not make a Will and appoint a guardian the courts may have to step in and decide one for you. Do you really want to leave such a vitally important life decision to a judge? You are safeguarding your children’s future by making a Will. Appointing a guardian in your Will is essential.
You May Have More Assets Than You Think
Some people think that they do not have enough assets to make it worthwhile making a Will. However, this really isn’t likely to be the case. Most adults need to make a Will even if they have very limited assets. A Will is not just for the wealthy.
Take a little time to think about the assets that you do have. You may have a bank account, a house, personal property and shares. However, what you may overlook is your digital assets. This is something that is relatively new, but we have to think about not only the money and property assets which we have. We now must consider what will happen to our digital assets as well.
What are digital assets? There is no strict legal definition. However, the term generally covers social media accounts, email, websites, domain names and files on your computer or in the cloud. The extent and range of these assets could be huge.
Imagine if you died without thinking about what would happen to these assets. This could leave a huge amount of work and complications for your family and friends. These digital assets will live on long after you have gone, and you need to make provision for what should happen to them when you are no longer here.
It is very important to consider digital assets when making a Will. Unfortunately, there are very few solid guidelines to follow. There is currently no legal provision for what should happen to digital assets after your death in Canada. This makes it imperative that you make your own wishes known. With the uncertainty in the law, this makes it even more important you are in charge of what should happen to your digital assets.
You can make provision for your digital assets in your Will. If you want your brother to take charge of all your photos in the cloud you can state this. If you would like your children to inherit all the websites and domain names that you hold, it is easy to put this in a Will. At the very least you should document all your digital assets so that your executors know what exists. How can you pass on that domain name to your kids if no one knows it exists?
Documenting your personal affairs
Another consideration is that the security of digital assets is always imperative. This means that you must find a safe way of letting your executors and beneficiaries know what your login and password details are. You should not put these directly in a Will. The reason is that online security is paramount and a will becomes a public document when you die.
You should make sure that all your up-to-date details are accessible only to those who will need them. There are plenty of online digital password managers that you can use. All you would need to do is make sure that your executors or digital estate planner has access to this. You could also go the more traditional route and write down your passwords. You must always be vigilant and aware that you need to protect your online security details.
At LegalWills.ca we solve this problem with our Executor handbook tool within our MyLifeLocker service. You can then print it as a book and store it with your Will, or you can store the information in the cloud that is then made available to your “keyholder”. We encrypt your information so that nobody other than your keyholder can see it.
By using MyLifeLocker with our proprietary keyholder mechanism, you ensure that the right information gets to the right people at the right time….and not before.
Writing a Will Should be your New Year’s Resolution
There really is no excuse to put off making a Will. You can do it easily and inexpensively. There are so many reasons to make a will that you should not put it off any longer. Make it the New Year’s Resolution you keep. Your family and friends will thank you for it one day. Also, you really should use that gym membership!
Tim Hewson is one of the founders of LegalWills.ca.
He has over 20 years of experience helping people to write their Will and other estate planning documents. He has been interviewed by many of the major news media outlets including CTV, Global News, The Toronto Star, and other leading Canadian publications. He has also contributed to a number of financial planning books.
Throughout his career, Tim has written extensively on the subject of Will writing and estate planning.
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