It can be difficult to think about what happens when you pass away. Yet the inevitable will happen to everyone and it’s always best to consider what will happen when you do pass – who will look after your children? What will happen to your spouse? Who will be entitled to your estate? Will planning can help address some of these concerns.
Why Should I Have a Will?
When death occurs, having a legal document drafted will give your spouse, cohabiting partner, and any children the legal rights to your estate and assets. If you choose not to write a will, your loved ones may have to discuss and agree what you specifically would have wanted to happen – which can lead to tension and family disputes, not to mention prove costly and confusing for all parties involved.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will
In British Columbia, the law states that those who pass without a will that the Will’s, Estate and Succession Act (WESA) determines how your estate will be divided.
An administrator is appointed by the courts to deal with the subsequent division of your estate and any children will be appointed a guardian if you have not specified one in a will. A spouse, family member, or trusted friend can apply to be the administrator or guardian, but consider that this person may be against your final wishes, so it’s always best to consider writing a will to avoid this situation.
If you have no next of kin and leave no will document detailing where your estate should be passed onto, your finances and assets will be put into B.C. treasury.
Steps to take when planning your will:
Will planning doesn’t need to be a miserable experience – think of it as safeguarding your family’s future. Take these three key steps when you’re planning your will to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
1. What are My Assets
The first stage in planning your will is to consider specifically what your assets are. Areas to take into consideration include physical assets such as:
Monetary assets such as the below will also need to be considered:
- Bank accounts
- Joint funds
- Savings bonds
- Life insurance policies
You will also need to think about the liabilities you have, for example, mortgages, loans, and credit cards. To find the value of your estate, you will need to subtract your liabilities from your assets.
2. Who are my beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries are the people who will receive the assets of your estate. Most people choose to have their dependents as beneficiaries, for example, a spouse or children. Others choose other relatives as their beneficiaries or trusted, close friends – especially if they have no next of kin.
Beneficiaries needn’t solely be the people who are given money, they can also be people who you would like other elements of your will to go to. For example, your car could go to your nephew or your jewelry collection to a close friend. Beneficiaries give you the chance to reflect upon how and where you would like your assets to go to.
3. Who will be the executor?
An executor is a person who is chosen to carry out the terms and conditions of your will. Being an executor can be a complex and time-consuming task – but don’t let this put you off who you choose. An executor should always be someone who you implicitly trust and ideally someone younger than you.
Make sure you ask the executor of your will for their permission. Whilst this isn’t a necessity, it may be beneficial in the long-term.
Once you have followed these three steps to planning your will, you can begin to write and construct your will and think about estate planning.
Need help with will planning? Dreyer Davison Family Law firm has over 45 years experience. Let us know how we can be of assistance, today.