Why do I need a Will?

Courtesy of Invesco, Posted 02 Dec 2014

Anyone with support or dependency responsibilities to a spouse, partner, or children should have a Will to clearly indicate who is entitled, when, and how. This is especially critical in situations involving blended families, common-law relationships, and disabled individuals. Beyond legal obligations, a Will helps survivors manage matters as efficiently as possible in a time of grief.

While "do-it-yourself" kits and software packages are easily available in retail stores or online, we recommend getting the help of a qualified legal professional. Bear in mind that what may appear to be a simple estate may in fact have legal complexities that cannot be uncovered or properly addressed without legal expertise. As well, a Will should not be seen as an isolated document, but rather as a very important component of a broader estate planning process.

Intestate (without a Will) administration of the estate of someone who has sizable assets can be complicated, and will likely require court intervention before the assets can be distributed. Without a Will, personal property (anything other than real estate) will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of the province where the testator was domiciled when he/she died. Real property will be dealt with based on the intestacy rules of the province where the property is located. If the deceased is a single parent of minor children, those children may, at least for some time, be placed under the care of a guardian appointed by the courts. If some family members have special needs, they may not be given the same priority by the courts as the testator might wish.

Without a Will, your survivors will need to apply to a court to take care of your estate, and the court may not appoint the person you would have chosen. The time taken to have an administrator appointed through the court may lead to cash-flow problems for your heirs. Keep in mind that until an appointment is made, no one has the legal authority to deal with your estate.

Dying intestate can result in needless higher taxation and possible increased costs of estate administration, especially if you neglected to do any estate planning. If you are concerned about your Will, or lack thereof, give us a call and we can recommend a professional to assist you.