Every adult should have a will; however, many Canadians don’t. According to an Angus Reid Institute Survey from January 2018, 51% of Canadians had no last will or testament, while 35% of Canadians have one that wasn’t up to date.

In Canada, if someone dies without a will, they are said to die “intestate”. If you die intestate, the deceased’s home province determines how to distribute their assets. To learn more about what happens if you die without a will, click here (hyperlink to Blog 2: What happens if you die without a will?)

There may be a variety of reasons why Canadians are putting off their estate-planning – being too young, thinking you don’t have enough assets, or not wanting to think about dying appear to be a few of the main reasons. Firstly, regardless of your age or assets, there are many benefits to having a will, a few are discussed below:

5 Reasons Why you Need a Will:

  1. It keeps red tape or administrative delays to a minimum.  If you die without a will, all the decisions surrounding your estate must be carefully assessed and considered, and it can take a lot of time to wait for decisions or deal with disputes
  2. It ensures your own wishes are carried out. As opposed to being dictated by the courts and government legislation.
  3. You determine who your executor will be. If you do not have a will, your executor is typically a relative, but they must apply to the Superior Court of Justice to be appointed. The executor chosen may not be the ‘right’ or most responsible person to administer your estate.
  4. You can save on the Ontario Estate Administration Tax. The Estate Administration Tax is charged on the value of the estate of a deceased person if probate is applied for. If you die without a will, probate will almost always be necessary.
  5. You can avoid potential estate disputes. When you draft your will, you can do your best to foresee and avoid potentially disappointed beneficiaries or at the very least leave an explanation in your will for why a certain individual is being treated in a certain way. Further, you may have dependants who are entitled to support from your estate, if you adequately deal with dependants in your will, they will not be required to apply to the court to receive anything.

3 Simple Steps to Getting Started:

  1. Take an inventory of your assets. Start collecting the information you and your lawyer will need such as beneficiary designations, deed to properties, etc.
  2. Start thinking about your estate goals – who do you trust to act as your executor? Are there any specific assets that you want to give to certain people? Are there any potential disputes that could occur?
  3. Find a lawyer who has experience with estate planning. Search the web for lawyers working in estate planning, ask friends and colleagues for referrals.

If you do not have a will, the cost to your estate will usually be at least several thousand dollars in expenses, not to mention the associated pain and cost to your family. Rather than properly grieving your loss, your family will be left with an administrative mess to clean up. Drafting a will with a lawyer is a far less costly investment in the long run!

The information and comments herein are for the general information of the reader and are not intended as advice or opinion to be relied upon in relation to any particular circumstances. For particular application of the law to specific situations, the reader should seek professional advice.