Do you have a Will? If you’re a Canadian adult, chances are that you don’t. According to a recent survey, the majority of Canadian adults (around 56%) do not have a Will. Furthermore, some of those who think they have a Will, actually have one that is out-of-date. Together, this represents a startling number of Canadians who have no plan in place for when they’re gone and that’s a scary thought.
Dying Without a Will
When someone dies without a Will, it’s called dying “intestate”. It means that person has forfeited any control they had over what happens to their money and other assets/property. Even if that person was married, the portion of their estate that goes to their spouse will be determined by provincial law and may be different from what they wanted!
The government will take control of your estate and will assign all assets as they see fit. The process can often drag out for several months, especially if there are any disputes between family members over it. Even worse, if the person who dies intestate had children, the courts will need to determine who takes care of them.
Taking Control of your Postmortem Financial Future
By having a Will in place, you significantly reduce the potential that there will be any confusion or disputes surrounding who takes possession of your property and assets. You get to assign an executor – a friend or family member who you trust – to carry out your wishes after you pass. They take possession of everything you own, and their job is to follow the instructions that you left for them in your Will.
Most importantly, having a Will means that you have control. No matter how much or how little you have, you get to decide exactly what happens with all of it. You get to choose who gets what, when, and under what conditions. You can even leave your belongings to your favourite charity!
Technology Has Made Getting a Will Easier and Cheaper
One of the main reasons that many Canadians don’t have a Will is because they see it as a costly and time-consuming process. And they used to be right! In the past, the only way to get a Will was to draft one with a lawyer. The complete process would potentially include multiple meetings and many documents to sign, all while paying a hefty hourly rate. For those who felt they didn’t have enough to leave behind, it may have seemed foolish to spend hard-earned dollars on a Will.
There was also the discomfort. Many people don’t like to talk or even think about death – especially their own. The subject of what might happen to one’s loved ones after passing can be difficult and uncomfortable to speak about with a stranger.
Today’s technology, however, has revolutionized the way people can draft a Will. Instead of paying a high-priced lawyer and meeting them in a fancy office, you can draft a Will exactly how you want it from the comfort of your own home, using the power of technology and the Internet. You don’t need to have uncomfortable conversations, and you get to maintain control over your financial future, even after you’re gone.
Don’t Forget Your Debt
It’s easy to forget that one’s financial liabilities don’t simply disappear when they die. When a Canadian adult dies, they still owe one final year of income taxes to the federal government. They also need to pay off any outstanding debts such as credit cards, mortgages, or other loans.
Even the act of dying unfortunately isn’t free, either. There are expenses that come with officially and legally terminating a life, as well as the costs of a funeral or other arrangements. Without a proper Will in place to allocate your assets accordingly, those expenses could end up having to be paid for by a friend or family member.
It’s not difficult to see why it’s beneficial for all Canadian adults to have a Will. It’s also pretty easy to see why so many Canadians have resisted making one for so long.
Yet, if you are a Canadian adult without a Will, it has never been easier to get one. There are plenty of suitable online options that can help you customize a postmortem plan exactly how you want it. Through the power of technology, a previously long, expensive, and nerve-racking process has evolved to become simple, affordable, and convenient.
The information in this article was kindly supported by the folks at Epilogue, an online estate planning solution for Canadians, and was adapted from their original post: What happens if I die without a Will?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justwealth, or its employees. The content of the article is provided solely for information purposes only and should not be construed as advice of any kind.