In last week’s webinar, Erin Bury, founder of Willful gave a very informative session covering the basics of estate planning and wills. We hope you can find some time to check out the full session on our YouTube channel for all the details, but if time is tight or you need some convincing, here is the short story.
First of all, let’s start with some Canadian will facts:
57% of adults do not have a will
65% of parents with minor children do not have a will
10% of wills are out of date
What happens if I die without one?
At the very least you create a monstrous headache for whoever has to sort it out on your behalf. It isn’t just avoiding some hard decisions when deciding who gets what, but they also have to guess at your last wishes and spend days trying to figure out exactly what you did have and how to get access to it before they can even think about dividing up your estate.
Wills are expensive
There are several options for creating a will all at varying price points and most wills are not that complicated, so it can be a lot less than you think. At the top end of the scale you could visit a lawyer and have a will drawn up, you could use an online service that helps guide you through the process, or you can tackle it on your own with a very inexpensive DIY kit.
At the very least, don’t assume it will cost a lot — take an hour to make a few calls and do some research to see which option suits your needs and budget.
I’m healthy and too young to worry about it
In its unused state, a will is one of the most useless things in the world. But so is an unused gym membership, and there are plenty of people who have one of those!
Even if you have relatively few assets and your only financial dependent is your cat, you should have a will. You don’t want poor Fluffy going to the SPCA, so you might want to earmark some of your estate for her long-term care and at least let your family know what to do with her. Leaving this world young and healthy is a tragedy and you are only going to compound the grief by letting your sister or parents figure out how to settle your estate.
I don’t have much – what’s the point?
Have you ever got mad at a friend who borrowed twenty bucks and never paid you back? You never know how people are going to react and grief combined with stress can make for a volatile situation. There could easily be misunderstandings, misconceptions and plenty of hard feelings among your family trying to divvy up even the smallest of estates.
It isn’t even about the money in many cases, it may be a sentimental item or family heirloom with no real value that causes friction. There is also the issue of your last wishes – funerals can range from somber black-tie affairs to all-night keg parties. If you have any wishes at all on how you would like to be remembered, that’s one more reason to get a will.
A will is an often a neglected part of the financial plan until it’s too late. It suffers from a perception of being complicated, expensive and really only required by “rich people” when nothing could be further from the truth. A will is an essential part of your financial plan and if you are part of the 57% mentioned above, you might want to re-think that plan.
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