You're probably not running around frantically trying to write your will. No one likes to think about his or her own demise, but the fact is, writing a will is the only certain way you have of letting your loved ones know your last wishes.
So, if you want to leave certain things to certain people in the aftermath of your passing - like money, personal items, property or your pet Iguana - a will is the estate planning document in which to spell it all out.
Is a will for everyone?
You don't necessarily need to have a lot of assets to fashion a will. If you're of legal age – and especially if you're married and have children – a will is rather essential. It's a document you can change or revoke at any time. If you're single, a will could still be just as important.
In any case, if you die without a will, your loved ones could be left with some potential problems since those who die intestate – or without a will – basically give their power to someone else in terms of who gets what and when. If you leave children behind and haven't said who their guardian should be, the government may appoint one for them.
What a will doesn't cover
A will is only one aspect of a well-rounded estate plan. There are some things it doesn't cover, such as:
- Property you own jointly, including property with a right of survivorship
- Joint bank accounts
- Life insurance policies
- RRIFs, RRSPs and TFSAs if they have a beneficiary
The role of the executor
The executor is the person or persons – you can have co-executors – you choose to look after your estate after you die. You should pick someone you trust and who is honest because this individual will not only be paying any debts you've left, but he or she will also be ensuring that your beneficiaries receive everything you request they receive.
Your executor could be a family member, spouse, good friend, lawyer or even an adult child. Asking the person you name first is wise since this can be a time-consuming, complicated task.
Legal support is available
When it comes to fashioning a will that speaks to your individual circumstances, there are resources readily available to you who can guide you through all the intricacies of the sometimes complex estate planning process. A British Columbia lawyer can provide insight as to the legalities of what you may or may not include in your will, and can ensure that you create a legally binding document that includes all of your final wishes.