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Peace of Mind: And a few other good reasons to make a Will

According to a survey by Angus Reid Institute, over 50% of Canadians do not have a Will [1]. This represents a significant gap for many Canadians who find themselves without proper planning in the event of their death.


But estate planning is not high for most on a favourite list of topics. Common questions I get asked are: Why should I make a Will? What happens if I die without a Will? When is the right time to make a Will?


1. Passing without a Will


Simply put, if you die without a Will in Alberta, this is called an “intestate” estate. Basically, this means that your estate will be distributed according to the rules in the Wills and Succession Act and not according to your directions.


Most people cringe at the idea of provincial legislation determining the division of their estate, but that is the way it works in Alberta.


There are other issues with intestate estates. For example, an intestate situation can create conflict amongst family members who may compete to administer your estate. Further, issues like guardianship for minor or dependent children are left to potential dispute with the assistance of the courts.


2. Reasons to make a Will


In addition to avoiding an intestate estate, there are other reasons to make a Will. Completing a Will ensures that the people or causes you care about are looked after. Think about the things you are planning for. These could include your:


· Spouse

· Children

· Grandchildren

· Business Succession/Transition

· Charity


3. When should I start?


When's the “right” time to make a Will? Like many life decisions that are easy to put off, there is no perfect time to start discussing estate planning. That said, here are a few life events that might cause you to consider completing your Will:


· Getting married

· Having your first child

· Starting a business

· Transitioning/selling a business

· Retirement


Any discussion of estate planning involves Wills, but it is also important to mention completing your incapacity documents, including a Personal Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney. These documents provide directions regarding your health and financial affairs in the event of incapacity, which can provide a tremendous help to family who are left to care for you when you cannot do so yourself.


You may have just gotten married, had your first child, started a business, or are planning to or have entered retirement. My experience suggests that the peace of mind that is available when you complete your estate plans is well worth the time and effort.

[1] https://angusreid.org/will-and-testament/

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