Resources & Insights

BARRISTON BRIEFS: Do you have a will?

In the series, Barriston Briefs, Janice Mumberson discusses the importance of having a will.

A will is an important document that helps ensure the assets you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating are used to benefit those you care about. It also authorizes your chosen representative to instruct a funeral home, your bank, and other third parties as to your last wishes. It makes life easier for your loved ones.

What if you don’t have a will?  Well, you’re not alone. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Canadians do not have a will. This may be why the Ontario Bar Association has declared November 2019 “Make a Will Month”.  Treat it as a call to action to get your will done before the end of 2019.

Many individuals believe they do not need a will if the types of assets they hold and their family situation is “simple”. Often, married people believe that if they predecease their spouse, everything will simply flow to their surviving spouse. However, legislation in Ontario states that if you pass away without a will, your spouse is entitled to a specific amount from your estate (that amount is currently fixed at $200,000), and the rest of your estate will be divided among your spouse and any children of yours who are then alive. The proportion of your estate that your spouse is entitled to changes based on the number of children you have.

It is important to consider the impact Ontario legislation may have on your loved ones if you pass away without a will. Call a lawyer’s office and schedule an initial appointment. They will guide you through a conversation to help clarify which of your assets will fall into your estate, and which assets may pass to a spouse or other individual who is a “joint owner” without going through your estate at all. They will also help ensure that the right provisions are included in your will, and ensure your will is properly signed. Investing a few hours of time now will save many hours of confusion (and often frustration) later.