It has been said that a Will is the last message you will leave your family. Having a Will can provide clear direction as to what your wishes are and who will get what. Die without a Will (known as dying intestate) and chaos will likely be the result. Having a Will allows you to provide for certainty instead of chaos.
Most of the reasons to have a Will have to do with what happens if you don’t have one and that often will depend on what province you reside in. Each provincial government has its own Wills and Estate legislation which also provides for the rules regarding intestacy. The following are some of the reasons to have a Will and what could result without one.
- Informs your family how and when your property is to be distributed
Your Will affords you the opportunity to give clear instructions as to whom will receive your wealth. It also allows you to make bequests of certain items such as family heirlooms which you may wish to leave to a specific individual. For those who wish to leave funds to a charity, the Will allows you to do this. Without a Will, this opportunity may be lost. The bottom line is that you make the call. Dying without a Will means that the provincial government will make the determinationon how your estate is to be distributed depending on the intestacy laws. Read more
You give up some control when you just have beneficiaries and no will
Q: I am married. I have RRIF and LIRA and my spouse has RRSPs. We have joint cashable accounts too. We have appointed each other as beneficiaries for every account. I am told this arrangement takes longer to settle on death if there is no will. Why do I still need a will?
Click to read the answer to this question on the MoneySense website.
If you think your heirs are not quite old enough or prepared enough to discuss the wealth they will inherit on your death, you’re not alone. Unfortunately though, this way of thinking can leave your beneficiaries in a decision-making vacuum: an unnecessary predicament which can be avoided by facing your own mortality and making a plan.
If you have a will in place, great. A will, however, is only a fundamental first step, not a comprehensive plan, point out authors of the 2017 Wealth Transfer Report from RBC Wealth Management.
“One generation’s success at building wealth does not ensure the next generation’s ability to manage wealth responsibly, or provide effective stewardship for the future,” they write. “Knowing the value (alone) does little to prepare inheritors for managing the considerable responsibilities of wealth.” Overall, the report’s authors say the number of inheritors who’ve been prepared hovers at just one in three. Read more
An executor is an individual or institution that is named in a will whose duty is to distribute estate assets according to the testator’s wishes. Acting as an executor can be stressful and time consuming so it is a good idea for a testator to make his or her choice wisely, and for someone who is asked to be an executor to investigate and review exactly what the job entails. Often the executor is the spouse of the deceased. That tends to make the role somewhat more straightforward than it would be for a family member, friend or other acquaintance. In any event, this article covers the duties and obligations of an executor.
Arranging the funeral
In addition to arranging the burial or cremation and funeral services according to the deceased’s wishes the executor would be responsible in ensuring that family, friends and interested parties (especially employer) have been notified about the death. Family members will most likely assist in this including the posting of the obituary. If there are sufficient funds in the bank account of the deceased the bank will usually release funds to cover the cost of the funeral. Read more
Executors often find that the probate process can be both time consuming and expensive. Planning strategies exist that may eliminate or reduce the requirement of having assets probated.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal procedure that validates a deceased’s will and confirms the executor’s authority to carry out the testator’s wishes. This provides assurance to third parties such as financial institutions and land registry offices that the executor has the power to deal with assets according to the will. Read more