Writing a will may seem like a scary thought, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in feeling that way. No one wants to talk about it! According to a 2018 Angus Reid poll, 51 percent of Canadians don’t have a will, and 25 percent say that haven’t written one because they’re ‘too young’ to worry about it. 23 percent said they feel they don’t have enough assets to make a will worthwhile, and another eight per cent said that the main reason is that they ‘don’t want to think about dying’.
This could definitely create a whole lot of unintended confusion and hassle for your family, so Jane Blaufus joined us on Your Morning to explain the importance of basic estate planning, and the steps you should take to avoid leaving a bit headache for your loved ones.
Why you need a will
If you die in Canada without a will, your property will be given away to your legal spouse and blood relatives according to rules set by provincial law. The rules even differ from province to province. If you don’t have a lawful spouse or any blood relatives — even if you have a long-time companion, a lover, friends, or a favourite charity — your property will all go to the provincial government.
Furthermore, if you die in Canada without a will that sets up a trust for young children until they come of age, the provincial government will hold any property you leave the kids — until they reach the age of majority.
Prince did not have a will and three years after his death, his $200 million estate is still not settled, as potential heirs continue to fight while lawyers and consultants rack up bills. When Aretha Franklin died last August it did not appear she had a will, but then last week three versions of handwritten documents that may or may not be considered valid wills were found in her home, including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room.
What you should do
Write down your wishes, and have a conversation with your family. Tell them what you want. If you don’t talk about what you want, no one will know. Tell them where you envision for your funeral planning. Tell them who you want to care for your children. You have no control beyond the grave so take all the steps to ensure your family has control.Then, get a lawyer and make your will. Tell people who has the will, and where it is. Don’t keep it a secret – it isn’t about hide and seek after you go.
Two adult witnesses signatures are required to make a will legal, but- if there is confusion over the most current version of the will, or the validity of a will is at all in question (was this actually written by you, or was it forged), it can be contested and once you have passed you have no control beyond the grave. Will kits can be contested.
When a will is done up properly by a lawyer who can file it, you have ensured your wishes are set in stone, and your family will be spared any confusion.