Half of Canadians Lack a Will: Why Estate Planning Is Vital | SRES®

Half of Canadians Lack a Will: Why Estate Planning Is Vital

SRES® Staff
estate planning meeting, shaking hands

Recent research from the Angus Reid Institute shows that half of Canadians don’t have a will. Even among those aged 55 to 64, only 49% of Canadians say they have an up-to-date will.

Writing a will is easy to put off. After all, thinking about death is uncomfortable, and some believe mortality is far off. Others may feel they don’t have enough assets to make a will necessary.

Given the unpredictability of life, it’s a crucial document for all adults.

A will allows you to protect and support loved ones, ensures that minor children are cared for by guardians that you pick and that your assets are distributed the way you want them to be.

If you die intestate (without a will), the legal system will decide how your assets will be divided, and such choices may not reflect your actual wishes. 

Here are five reasons to create a will.

  1. Make your wishes a reality. You want your assets, including money, real estate, and sentimental items, to go to your family, friends, and important charities. A will makes sure that such wishes are carried out. 
  2. Distribute your real estate. You need to spell out who will inherit your real estate, including your primary home, any investment properties, and family vacation properties. A clear will can help preserve family harmony and avoid disputes.

Tip: If you have a vacation or investment property in another country, complying with all the rules and taxes can be tricky, making it crucial to talk with an experienced lawyer when creating a will. They can help you and your heirs navigate the laws in foreign countries and address probate and tax issues, currency differences, language barriers, etc.

  1. Manage conflict in blended families. Blended families create unique challenges and the potential for conflict. Drafting a will can protect the interests and well-being of your spouse, biological children, and other relatives by clearly stating who gets what. 
  1. Keep sentimental items in the family. If you have family heirlooms, artwork, furniture, or collections, you want to be sure those sentimental assets pass to those you designate.
  1. Plan for business succession. If you own a business, your wishes for the company must be spelled out. For example, who should inherit the business? Who should manage it? If it’s sold, who inherits the proceeds? How can you minimize taxes? How can the company, whether sold or continued, ensure the financial security of loved ones?

Give yourself and the people in your life peace of mind by getting started on your will sooner rather than later.