Top 10 Reasons To (Re)do Your Will

September 18, 2007

Who will take care of your family, investments or even your pets when you are gone? Who will arrange your funeral or memorial service? Do you want to be buried or cremated?

If you do not provide your own answers to these questions, a set of arbitrary government rules will decide for you. Most people prefer things done their way, yet less than half of all adult Canadians have a will.

We at Weilers think almost everybody needs not only a will, but also powers of attorney for property and personal care. Even if you are the one in a thousand who truly does not need protection, that decision can only be made safely after meeting with a professional trained to consider all of the complexities in estate and life planning.

Even many clients who already have wills need to review them. Like going to the doctor or dentist, this is something busy people put off.

To make it easier, we have opened Saturday mornings. We call it Weilers Walk-In Wills Clinic because making or updating your will should be as convenient as going to the mall. Just as many people use walk-in medical clinics because we are all too busy to wait to see a doctor, we hope to make it easy to see a lawyer with little or no waiting.

Still not convinced? Then ask yourself whether even one of these ten reasons to make or update your will is important to you.

  1. Your Wishes: with a will your assets will be distributed the way that YOU want and not based on the law’s arbitrary default rules. You may also chose an Estate Trustee you prefer to manage the estate.
  2. Avoid or Reduce Estate Disputes: by setting out YOUR wishes, you promote family harmony.
  3. The Age of Your Will: wills older than three to five years ago should be reviewed because circumstances change and laws are amended. Three years for clients affected by change – marriages, births, divorces, separations, children or grandchildren turning eighteen, for example. Five years for everyone, because changes to the law might affect your planning.
  4. Provide for Guardianship of Children: though a judge has the final say, your wishes are important.
  5. Planning for Blended Families: support obligations change on death and although property distribution is subject to fairness rules under the law, a will can, for instance, keep Granny’s silverware or the cottage in the your family and not allow it to pass to your widow’s next spouse. Did you know that if you are separated and do not have a will; your spouse receives the first $200,000.00 if you have children or grandchildren, and the entire estate if you do not have any issue?
  6. Reduce Estate Administration Taxes (formerly known as Probate Fees): These Ontario taxes are based on the value of the assets subject to them. Good planning can reduce the assets subject to these taxes or eliminate them entirely.
  7. Reduce Capital Gains Taxes: the deemed disposition on death triggers significant tax exposure. A variety of planning tools are available in the will or identified in the wills instruction meeting. This issue identification by an objective trained professional is a good reason not to do it yourself.
  8. Reduce Legal, Accounting and Other Administration Costs: administration without a will is always slower and costlier, a delay which could be very harmful to a business interest.
  9. Faster Payment to Your Beneficiaries: your heirs may need money quickly. A Will is useful to free up bank accounts, speed up estate administration, and allow interim payments with more comfort for the estate trustee.
  10. The Cost: your will probably costs less that you expect and is almost always less cost than fixing things later.

Still not convinced? Then read our articles on Powers of Attorney – who will make decisions when you can’t ? Though we call it a Wills clinic, we are happy to provide powers of attorney alone, if you really do not need a will – or discuss family law issues or other legal problems.

Weilers Walk-In Wills Clinic is now open Saturdays from 9 am to noon for your convenience. Appointments are not necessary, and both existing and new clients are welcomed.