Studies indicate that approximately 80% of all New Year’s resolutions ultimately fail. Despite this, many of us continue to set lofty goals for ourselves and the brand new year before us. Various reasons are offered for our continued willingness to set ourselves up for almost certain failure. Tips about how to actually achieve one’s resolutions are plentiful.
Another staggering statistic is the fact that roughly one-half of all Canadians do not have Wills. Most are aware of the importance of seeing to one’s estate planning. For one reason or another, it is one of life’s tasks that simply does not make its way to the top of the to-do list.
Do I Need a Will?
The reasons for why every capable adult should have a Will are plentiful:
1. You choose your executor (also called an ‘estate trustee’).The executor may not be who you would have chosen if you die intestate (without a Will). Worse yet, no one can deal with your assets until an executor is appointed by the Court.
2. You can name a guardian to care for your minor child(ren) in the event of your death. You can also name an alternate in the event your initial guardian is not able to take on the care of your child(ren) for whatever reason. Note that these appointments are only valid for 90 days.
3. You can decide how your assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate will be divided upon your death. If you die intestate, the law decides who will inherit your assets. These may or may not be the individuals you would have chosen.
4. You can give specific articles or cash gifts to certain persons and/or charities. This allows you to pass along a treasured family heirloom or remember a favourite charity.
5. You can explore beneficiary estate planning opportunities to best provide for your loved ones. This might include using trusts to delay the payment of an inheritance to a minor beneficiary or preserve the governmental benefits received by a beneficiary with a disability.
6. You can ensure that proper tax and estate planning are done. This can result in significant savings to your estate including estate administration tax (commonly known as ‘probate’).
7. You can do your best to avoid costly estate litigation by proper estate planning. Trying to save money on the preparation of your Will can lead to huge expenses later. If there is even the slightest ambiguity or confusion in your Will, an application to court may be necessary so that a judge can determine what you really meant. Any court application is costly and will cause delays and reduce(!) the payment of your estate to your loved ones, surely not what you intended.
Specific, Achievable Goal
One tip for succeeding at New Year’s resolutions is to make the goal more specific and achievable. We suggest that the perfect New Year’s resolution is to make 2022 the year to get your Will done. Such a goal could not be more specific. It is also easily attainable with the assistance of a lawyer experienced in the area of Wills and Estates (see point 7 above). At the risk of sounding cliche, we can also promise that besides the immense satisfaction of falling into the 20% of resolutions that actually succeed, you will achieve peace of mind like you have never experienced before. This comes through the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for in the best way possible.