It’s a decision most of us will face sometime in our lives: whether or not to leave a will. Some people choose not to leave a will, dissuaded by the expense or effort of writing a will. Some people may not think that a will is appropriate in their culture. Others simply do not think about it, and so by default do not leave a will. So, why is it worth the effort?
The first benefit of a will is control. When you write a will, you take control over how your assets will be distributed, to whom, and when.
If you die without a will, then you have died “intestate”. If you die intestate, your assets will be distributed according to a formula set out by law.
Leave a Legacy
Your will is your last word – your legacy that speaks after you are gone. Your will can help ensure that your last wishes are executed in the way you want. Your will can affect how you will be remembered.
Provide For Those Who Need It
A will can help you to take care of those whom you think need extra assistance. For example, you may have a family member with special needs or disabilities whom you want to ensure is adequately taken care of.
Reduce Taxes or Probate Fees
Another benefit of making a will is reducing the potential tax and probate fees payable by your estate.
Avoid Changes in the Law
As mentioned above, if you die intestate, your assets will be distributed according to a formula created by the province. In British Columbia, that formula is currently set out in the Estate Administration Act (the “EAA”). However, this formula will be changing. The EEA will be repealed and replaced by new legislation, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”), which is likely to come into effect this year.
Choose Who Administers your Estate
There may be someone in your life whom you would like to be in control of your estate after you die. If you do not leave a will, then you cannot choose who that person is. This may cause friction within the family and legal costs if a battle begins regarding who will administer your estate.