Every human has their time, and with that realization comes an attached reality – you need to plan out your will. Many Canadians are simply unprepared for this eventual, irreversible scenario. An Angus Reid Institute poll from 2018 showed that 51% of Canadians haven’t bothered to create a will, while 35% haven’t maintained or updated their existing one. This should be alarming for anyone who hopes to pass down their assets to loved ones and prevent a sea of red tape and frustration after they pass away. Planning and maintaining an estate means remembering a few key factors and taking steps to adjust them as your wealth and life situation changes.
Stop Thinking You Don’t Need One
First, your income level doesn’t dictate whether you should plan your estate, yet many Canadians who make under $50,000 dollars believe it’s simply not worth it. Many financial experts warn that this is a mistake due to assets disappearing into the wind due to capital gains taxes and probate fees upon their death. In short, your financial situation should not dictate your decision to make out a will.
The Bad Effects Of Walking Away
Many Canadians who do have a will seem to think that everything is etched in stone, and that they can safely go about their business without having to be reminded that one day they’re going to pass away. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons many Canadians refuse to make out a will. If you’ve braved staring down the barrel of your own mortality long enough to make out a will, don’t neglect it. As your life progresses, so too will your experiences and overall situation, be it children, a marriage or a major financial windfall. Your assets (including real estate) will no doubt change, as well as your place of residence. A simple change of province could be enough to drastically change the fundamentals of your existing will.
If things have changed in your life, you have a few options. You can either create a new will from scratch to replace the old one, or modify the existing will through a codicil (addendum) document. Movers and shakers with a lot going on in their lives may wish to revisit the status of their will every 5-10 years, while relatively stationery people could take a second glance every 15-20. The point is not to walk away from a will thinking everything is set and ready to go. This approach could cost your loved ones upon your passing.
The Government Scenario
If the thought of the government coming in and taking all of your assets to divide them up its own way is appealing to you, then avoid a will. However, if you’re like most, you’ll find this idea unpalatable, to say the very least. Having the government mandating how your assets are distributed is a nightmare scenario in the making. Loved ones may end up getting short-changed in the long run and become forced to dispute the rulings legally. This could tie up your assets for years, with very little chance of a positive outcome once the dust has settled. Even if you have no family to pass down your assets to, the thought of the government absorbing your estate is an unpleasant one.
The Burden Hardest To Bear
At some point, you’ll have to choose an estate representative to deal with the fallout of your passing. In addition to the emotional burden suffered during this period, the estate rep will have to contend with your funeral arrangements, outstanding accounts and a host of other criteria attached to your name.
Re-examining your will includes looking at your established estate rep to make sure that person is still qualified and up to the task. Remember, this person is human as well. Changes in their lives may throw an extra burden upon them in an already trying time. This is not only unfair to that person, but it could also threaten how your assets are handled in the wake of your death. Even the healthiest and happiest can still fall victim to unfortunate circumstances, which is why it’s best not to leave the will unattended for too long. If there’s nobody else you trust to run your estate, your financial planner can help. Many of them specialize in dealing with all facets of this process, including (but not limited to) dealing with attorneys, accountants and insurance companies to settle any disputes. Oftentimes, the average person may not realize the full scope of executing a will upon someone’s death, which is why it’s important to be sure that your choice is knowledgeable and confident enough for the task.
For more information on planning out a will for the first time, or updating your existing one properly, get in touch with us today! We’d be glad to help.