Do you remember the Got Milk ads and t-shirts that reminded everyone to drink your milk regularly? I think we should create a “Got a Will?” campaign. A will should be a standard document that every Canadian has in place but yet only around 30% have an up-to-date legal will*. That’s unbelievable!
When I talk with people it seems that the problem is not that they think that they do not need one, nor is it because they are not aware that they should have one. As a financial planner I see it as my duty to help each one of my clients to have a valid up-to-date will. If you die without a will, you essentially give up control and potentially cost your spouse, children and other beneficiaries time, effort and money. When you die without a will it is said that the person died intestate (for more details on the what happens under BC law you can visit the Canadian Bar Association). The bottom line is that you do not want this to be the legacy that you leave behind.
When we prepare our clients to meet with their lawyers to get their will in place, we look at these key topics.
The main areas to be prepared to discuss:
– This is the person that will execute your will, it’s not a fun job but it needs to be done.
– It is wise to have 2-3 people as possible executors that way if one of them is not available then you have a backup.
– Ask if they are willing to be your executor. I know it sounds obvious but you would be surprised.
– Your executor should know the location of important information such as your bank accounts, will, assets, etc.
2. Guardian (if you have minor children)
– A guardian is the person that will take care of your children if they are under the age of majority (18 or 19 depending on the province).
– Make sure that you ask the person, as it is a big responsibility.
– You should have a backup named if possible, although it can be difficult to think of two people that you would want your children to be raised by.
– You will need to decide who will receive your assets.
– Would your child be able to handle a large sum of money at the age of 18 or 19? If you have minor children you may want to consider when they would receive their inheritance. If nothing is stated in the will then the child would receive the inheritance at the age of majority.
These are the basics for getting started, the main thing is to get a will in place and to do it properly. Set a target date for getting it done and engage the services of a professional that you trust. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.