Getting Ready for your Golden Years: 4 Misconceptions about Your Will
1. I only need a will if I have children.
According to Statistics Canada, the trend towards limited child-bearing is increasingly reflected in Canada’s average fertility rate, which is pegged at 1.54 per cent. As this trend continues, many people who don’t have children are opting out of preparing their wills. However, this can be a mistake as having a will and estate plan is essential for everyone.
With a will, you will have control of who gets your assets and that your wishes are honoured after you die with a legally binding document. If you die without one, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. A court will likely give your assets to your next of kin, like your parents or siblings. If you have a will, it will help minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determine if you would prefer to leave certain gifts to specific members of your family.
Additionally, you can minimize your estate taxes and maximize the value of what you can give away to your family or charity. The ability to leave part of your estate to charity as gifts or donations is also a good reason to start thinking about your assets. It will allow your legacy to live on through organizations that reflect your values and interests. In addition, gifts above certain amounts are excluded from estate taxes so that your heirs and beneficiaries can enjoy more.
2. I don’t need a will if I’m leaving everything to my spouse or children / My family knows what I want.
If you pass away without a Will (dying intestate), the Province will decide what to do with your assets. Most assume that it will usually pass to your spouse or children which may not always be true. Many assume that your spouse or children will be able to act as your executor. In fact, your family can end up lacking the power to make many important decisions. Your family won’t be able to decide who will get your assets, when they can get it and who is assigned to legally look after your children.
For example, if you want your children to inherit after your spouse, or any other variation, you need to have it in writing. Deceased Estates are some of the hardest legal matters to deal with. The stress of dealing with money while going through grief is extremely difficult for your family. Think of it as preparing for your survivors’ peace of mind. The clearer you are in your wishes, the less they will have to worry about and the less chance of any ugly disputes that can tear families apart.
3. If I make a will or plan, I won’t be able to change it.
Setting up a will and making a plan is a crucial first step. However, your family, career and assets can change over the years. For instance, you might have another child or want to add or remove a beneficiary. Similarly, you might purchase a large asset that is a gift for a specific person. As a result, you need to make these changes to keep your will up to date, but it’s not difficult at all.
If your situation changes, your arrangements can be changed at any time. In fact, you should be reviewing it every 3-5 years and updating the document after big events like marriage, divorce, having a new child or when you retire.
It’s easy to create a new will at anytime. You can simply state in your new document that you revoke any previous wills or codicils. You can also amend your existing document by signing a a Codicil.
4. It’s too complicated.
The final and most common reason (or excuse) that we hear is that creating a will is too complicated. Naming beneficiaries, dividing your assets and deciding on executors may seem like a long process. However, at Winright, the process simply involves a basic intake form, a phone call, and a consultation. Check out our infographic on how our process works. The easiest way is simply to sit down with an attorney for a consultation. You can explain exactly what you want and ask questions about each document. That way, you can feel comfortable and fully understand your estate plan.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to find out about how we can help you.
Interested in learning about charitable and legacy giving?
We will be co-hosting a seminar in conjunction with Mission Central, Nelson Huang CPA and Financial Literacy Counsel. Join us to learn about all the aspects of leaving a meaningful gift. Including tax implications, financial planning and your legal obligations. In addition, we will be covering and answering all of your top concerns.