Frequently Asked Questions: Wills & Power of Attorney
November 15, 2017Building Your Future
We update our social media status almost incessantly, yet making a Will lingers at the bottom of the To Do list. When it comes to protecting your family’s financial future, having a Will is actually as important as having a health card or a social insurance number. However, according to recent surveys conducted by BMO and Canadian Legal Wills, more than 50% of Canadians currently do not have a Last Will and Testament.
Calvin Beresh, estate, real estate and family lawyer at Beresh Smith Law said, “You need a will to save your family a great deal of money and avoid heartache. It is best to have a will done when you get married, when you have children, when you buy your first (or new) home, or when someone close to you (family or friend) passes away. A lawyer not only prepares a will but is there to help you make wise choices. With this help you can have a will done in a little as two hours by most lawyers in your area.”
Q: Does everyone need a will?
A: Whether you are single or married you need a Last Will and Testament to outline and describe the distribution of your assets and possessions. A Will provides the opportunity to appoint an Executor who will carry out the instructions in your Will and manage everything on your behalf. Within your Will, you should also appoint a guardian for minor children – not a decision to be taken lightly and something you may want to discuss with your family and loved ones in advance.
Mistakenly, people think that family is permitted to make decisions unilaterally when it comes to the well-being of your minor children. However, if you have minor children and die without a will, their care will be determined by the courts.
Q: What is the impact of dying without a Will?
A: Many Canadians do not realize that if they were to die without a Will, they are considered to have died “intestate” and if this happens, the provincial government decides how to divide your assets – not you! This provincial formula is usually not reflective of your wishes for the distribution of your estate no matter how large or small it may be. Intestacy can also result in additional legal costs for your family to settle your estate.
Not having a Will can set a family up for undue heartache and emotional turmoil. All too often families experience fallouts between family members who may have gotten along fine until they had to figure out how to administer an estate in the absence of a Will.
Q: Why is it important for my Will to be kept up to date?
A: A Will that was written before your children were born, or which hasn’t been updated over the years to reflect the birth of additional children and their transition into adulthood, is one of the best reasons to update your Will. It’s also good to make sure that the Executor and the guardian you may have chosen 10 years ago is still healthy, willing and able to fulfill this important role. Updating a Will is something you only do a few times in your lifetime and typically takes less time and effort than filing your taxes, but will leave you feeling much better knowing your affairs are in order.
Q: What are some other benefits of having a Will?
A: Without a Will, you may miss out on the opportunity to designate your assets to benefit others in the following ways:
- Leave a lasting legacy gift to your favourite church, ministry or charity.
- Help a sibling, a grandchild or nieces and nephews with their education or a down payment on a home.
- Donate an “In Memory” gift from yourself or your spouse to your local hospital.
- Create a scholarship fund in your name.
- Leave a cherished possession to someone who will really appreciate it.
Q: Why should I use the services of a professional to prepare a Will?
A: At FaithLife Financial we recommend that you draft a will with the help of professional legal counsel. There are many provincial laws to follow in order for your will to pass the validity test. We suggest that you contact Christian Legal Fellowship, Canada’s national association of Christian lawyers who can help you find a lawyer to prepare a Will.
Preparing a Will is just one of the ways that FaithLife Financial encourages people to protect their family’s financial future. As a Members you receive a benefit, toward your legal costs for preparing or updating your Will and/or Power of Attorney.
Protect your family against setbacks with a Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, which will protect your minor children and your estate. A Will is a living document that is really as much about life as it is about death. Your Will is all about passing along property and keepsakes to the next generation – allowing you to leave a lasting legacy.
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