This month sees the return of Make a Will Week in British Columbia, a campaign which encourages people throughout the province to make a Will, or to update their existing one. As such, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at why you need a Will – and the dangers of not having one.
Top 7 reasons to have a Will
1. To ensure your loved ones receive the inheritance you had intended
When you make a Will, you can say exactly who should receive your assets, and when. You might think that you do not need a Will for this, as you can simply tell your loved ones what you want to happen. But this has no legal standing. In fact, if you die without a Will, the law will decide who receives what. This could result in the wrong people receiving an inheritance, while those you wanted to benefit from your estate could be left out altogether.
2. To minimize legal challenges
If you have set out who your beneficiaries are, and what each beneficiary should receive, it will provide your family and friends with much greater clarity after you have gone. This will help to minimize successful legal disputes after your death, as it will be harder for people to argue that you wanted them to receive a share (or a greater share) of your estate. This will make what is already a hard time just a little bit easier for those you have left behind.
3. To name legal guardians for your children
If you have children who are legally considered to be ‘minors’, you can name legal guardians for them in your Will. Undoubtedly you would like to have a say as to who should raise your kids, in the tragic event they are left without parents. Yet writing a Will is the only way to make your decision legally binding. If you do not leave a Will in which you name legal guardians, the decision will instead be made by the courts.
4. To name an Executor
A Will also allows you to name your Executors. These are the people who will apply for probate and wind up your affairs after your death. This can be important to some people, who may feel very strongly about which friend, family member or trusted professional should be finalizing their affairs. If you do not make a Will, there are rules around who is allowed to apply for probate, and it might not be the person you would have wanted.
5. To minimize costs and probate delays
Whoever is made responsible for applying for probate and administering your estate will have a much easier time if you have made a Will. Not only is the process more straightforward, there are fewer delays. Furthermore, administration costs are usually less if you have made a Will, meaning there will be more left in the pot for your loved ones to enjoy.
6. To make gifts and donations
Along with leaving your estate to friends and family members, you might want to make gifts to charity, or leave a particular item to a particular person. For example, you could leave a certain amount of money to your favourite charity. Or you could leave your engagement ring to your daughter Sarah. You can specify these gifts and charitable donations in your Will, ensuring that they will be fulfilled after you have passed away.
7. To be sure everything is in place for when it is needed
Lastly, you never know what life will bring. Many people put off making a Will, but the morbid reality is that we do not know when our time will come. Therefore, it is best to be organized and ensure your Will is in place, ready for when it is needed. If you make a Will and you later change your mind or your circumstances alter, it is no problem – you simply need to update your Will or create a new one.
Want to make a Will?
If this has inspired you to write a Will, our estate planning lawyers can help you. We can write a Will on your behalf, ensuring that your wishes are taken care of. To find out more, simply contact us at North Shore LLP.