A will is a legal and binding document that outlines a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and property after their death. Having a will is on most people’s to do list but not always a priority. However, having a will has many advantages and is a time saver for your loved ones.
While it is not always fun to plan ahead of your death, having a will might save time and make things easier for those who would handle your affairs. In addition, by providing clear instructions and guidance on how you want your wishes to be carried out after your death, you would also prevent potential conflict and disputes among family members or other potential beneficiaries. Here are some of the key reasons why you might consider having a will:
Distribution of Assets: A will allows you to indicate how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Your assets include real estate, personal property, money, investments and other assets. You can include instructions on specific bequests and gifts in your will. You can also create a trust for your children and specify the conditions under which they will qualify for their inheritance and when they will be able to access it.
Contingency Plans: You might include contingency plans in your will in case a beneficiary predeceases you or cannot receive their inheritance. For example, if one of your children dies before you, you can specify in your will that their share should be divided equally among their own children.
Naming an Executor: A will gives you the opportunity to name an executor. An Executor, is the person who will administer your estate and carry out your wishes in accordance with your instructions in the will. This can help you avoid potential disagreements or disputes among family members or other interested parties.
Providing for Dependants/Minor Beneficiaries: Although it is a point that anybody would ever want to think about, it is one of the most important decisions you have to make. If you have minor children or dependents, a will can outline who should take care of them and how they will be provided financially. Therefore, you can ensure that they are cared for in the manner that you wish.
Potential Conflict: If you do not have a will, disagreements and disputes among family members on the distribution of your assets or the care of your children might arise. This might create emotional stress and hardship for your loved ones.
What Happens If You Die without a Will?
You can outline specific instructions on all these points and even more such as what type of funeral you would like and what you want to be done with your body. Not having instructions on these matters or not having a will at all might cause delays in wrapping everything up.
It is highly likely that your loved ones would be shocked to see how much money, time and effort it requires before your estate can be distributed. Estate planning covers a significant part of what will happen after your death and might avoid any possible delays in distribution of your assets and the access of your loved ones to their inheritance in the manner you desired.
If you pass away without a will in Ontario, it means you died “intestate”. In case you die intestate, the provincial laws would apply to decide on the distribution of your assets, appointing an executor and guardians for your minor children (if applicable).
In case you die intestate, you would not be able to choose the beneficiaries of your estate. If you are in Ontario, it is the Succession Law Reform Act that would dictate the rules on the distribution of your assets and it might not reflect your wishes and the needs of your loved ones.
Even though having a will is not obligatory, it is crucial to have it because a will would be an effective means of communication for your desires to be declared after your death, instead of leaving the responsibility to the courts to decide on how your estate will be managed and how the care of your children will be arranged.
Consulting a lawyer to create a will can provide you peace of mind on all these matters. A lawyer can ensure that your will is drafted precisely with your instructions and desires and that it is fully personalized to your situation.
If you are an individual who is seeking legal assistance in creating a will tailored to your unique circumstances and needs, contact us today and find out how we can be of help.
The information provided above is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice. Every transaction or circumstance is unique, and obtaining specific legal advice is necessary to address your particular requirements. Therefore, if you have any legal questions, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.