According to a poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in 2018, more than half of Canadians do not have a last will and testament in place. This means that more than half of Canadians will have no say in what happens to their assets when they die. What’s more, of the less than 50 per cent of Canadians who do have a will, only one-third say that it is up to date.
According to the same poll, about 25 per cent of Canadians feel that they are “too young” to worry about writing a will. An additional 25 per cent say that they don’t have enough assets to make the process (and the expense) worthwhile.
Having a will in place ensures that your wishes are carried out when you die. Without a will, legislation takes over and you are not given a say in how your assets and property are distributed.
A will does more than outline how your assets and property are distributed. If you are a parent, a will is also important for ensuring your children are taken care of if you die before they reach adulthood. Through a will, you can name a guardian for your children so that you can ensure that they are cared for by the relative or loved one of your choosing.
Anyone with property and assets should have a will. Your will should be kept updated as you move through different life events—marriage, children, property acquisition, divorce, or deaths in the family, can all impact how you wish to distribute your assets when you die.
Anyone who is a parent should also have a will. A will allows you to name a guardian for your child or children should you die before they reach adulthood. Without a will, you will not have a say in who becomes the guardian of your child or children.
Wills and estates law is governed by provincial legislation. If you die without a will in Ontario, you are considered to have died intestate. If you die intestate, the Succession Law Reform Act sets out how your property and assets (your estate) is distributed.
Typically, if you die intestate, your estate will be distributed as follows:
It is important to note: if you die intestate, common-law spouses, other relatives, and loved ones who are not mentioned above will be left without a share of your estate. One of the benefits of having a will is that you can ensure that all of your loved ones – who are not covered by the provincial rules – are accounted for and taken care of when you die.
Another thing to consider is that the process of administering an estate when someone dies without a will can be a complex and lengthy process with lots of red-tape and administrative hurdles. It can cause unnecessary stress for loved ones and create time-consuming and costly delays on the distribution of your estate.
There are three common ways to write a will in Ontario:
People generally do not like to think about what happens after we die, yet planning ahead is key to ensuring that your loved ones are protected and taken care of after you’re gone. Having a will and keeping it up to date is just one step that you can take to keep your family safe.
The wills and estates lawyers at NULaw in Toronto are highly-experienced when it comes to helping clients make informed decisions about their estate planning and will writing needs. An experienced wills and estates lawyer can help you achieve your long-term goals and objectives and plan ahead to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you would like help understanding your options and drafting your will, contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation today.