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With our partner Willful.co, we’re on a mission to help families across Canada create the necessary legal documents to protect and provide for the people who matter most to them, through information and affordable resources.
What most people believe they'll need to create a will:
What you actually need to complete your will:
It is where you can create your legal will from the comfort of your
own home. Take advantage of the powerful, secure technology with built-in logic to create legally binding and error-proof documents that are lawyer approved for each province.
With Willful, you can come back and update your choices anytime, free of charge.
Has "writing the Will" been on your to-do list for months, even years? You are not alone: over 57% of Canadians do not have a Will and millions have wills that need to be updated. Here are 7 reason why you need to do it now:
A common excuse we’ve heard from those who have yet to create their Will is “my family will know what to do if I die.” This assumption has caused family friction too often since death, grief and loss can make decision-making highly emotional.
Instead, the process of writing a Will and putting your decisions down in writing takes the burden off your loved ones to guess (and challenge) what your wishes would be. This is the time to tell your chosen executor and guardians that you’ve chosen them, and make sure they are up to the task.
You may have family and friends who love and care for you but still would not be up to the task of closing your estate upon your passing. Your Will is the opportunity to choose the right person as your executor. Someone in your life who you not only trust but who has the capacity—time, energy, organizational skills—to serve in this role.
The person you choose as your executor shouldn’t be written in stone either, as things can change over the course of your life.
When you die without a Will (known as dying “intestate”) provincial legislation will dictate how your estate is distributed and may impact important relationships in your life that are not recognized by these laws. Common-law partners and other dependants you wish to provide for are vulnerable if you die without a Will.
No one wants to think of a tragic event that could leave a child or children without their parents. This thought exercise will never (ever) be easy, but avoiding it altogether is also not an option.
Your Will tells your loved ones and the courts who you’ve entrusted to provide care and support for your child or children. While this decision should not be made lightly, it’s important to get this in writing and avoid the turbulence that could ensue because there was no plan in place. Like your executor, your decision for your guardian(s) can change over time.
Most pet owners would agree that we love the animals in our lives as much as the humans in our lives (and in some cases, maybe even more!). Put in writing who you’d like to care for your pet when you’re no longer able to and also set aside funds to help support your pet’s needs. Make sure you have this important conversation with whoever you choose so they are aware of what is being asked of them.
Your Will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you’d like to divide your estate and gives you a place to allocate special gifts of monetary or sentimental value such as books, art and jewelry. Help your loved ones navigate who gets what and minimize the chances of arguments that may arise when wishes aren’t made clear.
You need a Will if you wish to include a gift or donation to the charities you care about after you die (you also have the option to leave a percentage of your estate). Many organizations are supported by legacy giving and allow you to pay it forward to help those who need it most.
There’s nothing worse than walking around with a nagging thought of “I know there’s something I should do, but I’ll just get to it later.” Procrastination is a dark playground where we can never fully enjoy the present moment knowing there’s unfinished business.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. We live by this motto and we encourage you to do the same.
If you die without a Will, you’re considered to have died intestate. This means that while the government doesn’t automatically get your estate, it does get to use provincial laws to decide how to distribute your estate and appoint your executor. Your estate includes all of your assets (anything you possess of financial or other value) and any debts. What happens with your estate varies from province to province and it may be very different from what you would have wanted since the government doesn’t take into account the specific needs of individual families.
The first consequence of dying intestate may be shock for your surviving loved ones - family and friends are often surprised to learn you didn’t have a Will. They may also be shocked to learn how much time, money and work will be required before your estate can be distributed. Without instructions on how you want your property to be distributed, what type of funeral you’d like and what you want to be done with your body, there will be delays in wrapping everything up.
Someone will have to apply to the court to be appointed as the administrator (or personal representative) of the estate. The administrator has the same duties as an executor, the only difference is that the administrator can’t begin to act on your behalf until the court gives permission - which can take a while. And if nobody steps up, then the court will have to appoint a public trustee. Having a Will allows for someone to begin acting on your behalf immediately after you die.
If your dependant children don’t have another surviving parent, the court will decide on a guardian for your children. This person gains all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent - and it may not be the person you believe will do the best job. Your kids’ inheritance will be held in a trust until they reach the age of majority (18 or 19 years of age depending on the province). This can make it difficult financially for a surviving spouse to raise a family. It is also often too young for children to know how to properly handle such a large sum of money.
Without a Will, you can’t choose who you’d like to benefit from your estate. This means you can’t leave money to a charity you care about, you can’t leave any gifts to close friends and you can’t set aside money to cover the cost of care for your furry family members. Your estate will be distributed using provincial laws that have very little flexibility.
While individual cases may be handled differently, click here for the breakdown of the typical default procedure for distributing your estate if you die intestate by each province (after your debts are paid).