Your will is arguably the most important document you will ever sign in your life.
Yet many people neglect to get even a basic will until it’s too late. Consequently, their loved ones may face increased frustration, uncertainty, and cost in dealing with the estate.
Their business partners may face uncertainty, delays, and potential litigation in determining succession issues.
A properly made will can save the important people in your life from this unnecessary frustration and cost and provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they will be taken care of.
Making a living will
The point of a will is to ensure that your estate gets distributed to your loved ones in the way that you want it to be distributed. While a properly made estate plan includes distribution of your assets both through the will and outside of it, the will is the most basic first step that everyone, including business owners, should take.
On March 31, 2014 a new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) came into effect. WESA applies to a deceased’s will or estate if they die after this date. So while any previously made wills remain valid, some key rules have changed that may affect you.
For example, marriage no longer automatically revokes a will. If you have wills made prior to WESA coming into effect I highly recommend that you have them reviewed by a wills & estates lawyer to ensure that your wishes are still being carried out by the old will.
Without a will the state uses a predetermined formula to distribute your assets. This formula does not take into account your wishes or the special needs of your loved ones.
This can result in some surprises.
For example, under WESA if a deceased dies without a will the spouse no longer gains an automatic life interest in the spousal home, instead the spouse gains the right to purchase the spousal home.
Even those with modest estates can benefit as a will grants increased control over the distribution of your assets and reduces the legal costs of distribution. This means that more of your money and assets will stay with your loved ones.
You buy insurance for your cars, your home, your health, and your life; a proper estate plan acts like insurance to protect your assets after death.
Be on the lookout next week for Part 2 in our Wills segment – How your estate gets distributed without a will.
Sundeep Gill is a knowledgeable and experienced Wills and Estates Lawyer in Surrey BC. Please contact him directly at (778) 565-4700 if you have any questions regarding your estate planning needs.