Did you know that November is ‘Make a Will’ month in Ontario? This is an initiative by the Ontario Bar Association to encourage Ontarians to take the necessary steps in making sure they have a valid, up-to-date Will.
Recent surveys reveal a staggering fact: just over half of all Canadian adults do not have a Will. Unfortunately, these studies generally don’t delve into the reasons why so many Canadians put their estate planning on the back burner.
Why do so many Canadians not have Wills?
The common misconceptions about having a Will may be a factor. These include the widely held belief that having a Will is only necessary later in life or only if you have significant assets or a complex family situation. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The cost of having a Will prepared may be another factor. However, not having a Will is problematic for a whole host of reasons. Suffice it to say, not having a Will often ends up costing more than it would to have had a Will prepared in the first place. This can be said not only for money, but for time and heartache as well.
My affairs are so simple, I don’t think I really need a Will.
Many are surprised to learn that every capable adult over the age of 18 should have a valid, up-to-date Will. Even if a person has very few assets, most people have something, perhaps a car, household goods, or an email account. Also, everyone is required to file an income tax return each and every year and the year of death is no exception. Having a Will makes the job of dealing with these issues much easier for your loved ones.
What can having a Will do for me?
Although every adult should have a Will, there are many situations where having a Will is especially important:
- Minor children: In your Will you can name a guardian of your minor children for a limited time and include trusts to delay the age at which your children receive their inheritance;
- A beneficiary with a disability: You should consider including an absolute discretionary (‘Henson’) trust to ensure government benefits received by your beneficiary are protected;
- A second marriage: If you wish to provide for a surviving spouse but ultimately benefit your children from a prior relationship, you may consider a spousal trust in your Will or mutual wills;
- Shares in a privately-held, Canadian-controlled corporation: Such shares can be dealt with in a Secondary Will to avoid paying probate fees on the value of the shares.
As you can see, there are an array of estate planning options that can be tailored to every unique situation.
Don’t delay…be a part of November’s ‘Make a Will’ month and give yourself the gift of peace of mind that only comes with proper estate planning.