As we make our way through the cycle of life, we always find a way to put off the uncomfortable things for another day. We have been taught to be prepared whether it was for the unexpected or expected we should always be prepared. If only life were that simple!

Since Covid-19 planning has never been more top of mind for Canadians, but research shows that 57% of Canadians don’t have a will. My clients will attest to this as it is one of the first questions I ask in my interview process. Sadly, I concur only half of my client base had Wills in place before we met.

Estate planning typically isn’t at the top of our to-do lists because it can be complex, expensive, and – let’s face it – who is worried about dying while living. 

If you don’t want to see a lawyer about creating a will, Online wills are a thing, as are Handwritten wills.

Example of a hand written will…

“In case I die in I leave all my worldly possessions to the guy next door.” signed: The Neighbour

Seems simple enough – not to mention lucky guy next door!

“In case I die in I leave all my worldly possessions to the guy next door.” signed: Seems simple enough – not to mention lucky guy next door!

If you were to pass tomorrow and you left this handwritten statement to be found. Then the statement above would be upheld as a valid will, since holograph wills (handwritten wills) are legal in all provinces except BC and PEI. As long as a will is written entirely in your handwriting and signed by you, it’s legally valid. Please understand if you are writing your own will that it likely won’t be as comprehensive as a will created online or with a lawyer.  But in the end a will isn’t just about who gets your assets, it’s also about appointing an executor of your estate and guardians for any minor children. 

Let’s say you have an estate worth 1 million dollars, and you don’t have a spouse or any heirs. Typically, in this situation you may pass things to a friends, acquaintances, universities, alumni associations or charities to name a few. People without heirs will get creative in how they pass on their assets. It’s much more common to leave a gift to charity, friends, or organizations if you don’t have children. In fact, leaving a gift to charity in your will is one of the ways you can have a positive impact when you’re gone not to mention the tax break received by the estate – you can either leave a bequest (a specific item/amount of money), or a portion of your estate to an organization you care about.

The validity of the will can be challenged, and a judge will always look for testamentary intention.

What did the testator (the will-maker) actually intend? It’s important to be clear with your wishes, and it’s equally as important to say what you DON’T want as to what you do – for example if you want to ensure someone is disinherited or cut out of your will, stating that in the will and providing any additional details can ensure your wishes hold up after you’re gone.

Planning your estate and communicating your wishes as appropriate can protect your estate and, as importantly, allow your heirs the opportunity to prepare themselves for their changed circumstances. The “do nothing” option is not in the best interests of your family, your business or other relationships. As the world we live in becomes increasingly characterized by legal action and government intervention, estate planning is something everyone should do. 

So, the moral of the story is unless you want to work for the government in death create a Last Will of Testament that clearly state your intentions upon death. Whether you are leaving your processions to your heirs or creating a legacy the value of a will is not as complex as you believe it to be and also makes for great wealth-sense.

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