People in their 20s or 30s don’t really think about how they’d like their assets to be handled after their death. The average life expectancy in Canada is 81.75 years, which is why people usually plan on writing their will when they are over 65, have built up assets and properties, have a family, etc.
Higher life expectancy doesn’t give any guarantees, however. Any unfortunate accident or health complication can cause sudden death, which is why experts recommend every person should have their will written as early as they graduate high school or turn of legal age! Let’s take a look at why it’s important to draft a will while you’re young and how you can easily do it.
What is a Will?
In simplified terms, a will is a document that specifies a person’s wishes after their death. This document holds legal value and can be used in court. The document can contain various things, for example, how any property they own should be divided, how their assets should be divided, who’ll take care of their children if they’re underage, etc.
A will is only applicable after a person passes away. If the person is alive, the will has no legal value and cannot be acted upon.
Are There Different Types of Wills?
Yes, there are different kinds of wills. Let’s take a detailed look at them here:
1. Testamentary Will
A testamentary will is a document enclosed and signed in the presence of witnesses to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death. For example, family members or business partners sometimes have disputes over certain properties or assets. A will can easily be hidden or even misplaced in scenarios like these. This means the distribution of your assets and properties may not go as planned.
The testamentary will ensures there are witnesses who can confirm that you drafted a will and that only that document can be used to distribute your property.
You can also hire a wills and estate lawyer to help you draft your will according to the law, get it signed by the witnesses, and keep it safe.
2. Holographical Will
A will that is formally drafted according to the laws but doesn’t have a witness is known as a holographic will. These wills are used when a person is about to pass away, and there’s no time to arrange witnesses. However, holographic wills are often disputed because it’s difficult to prove that the author of the will was in the right mental capacity to draft its contents. Sometimes, the legitimacy of these wills is also questioned because no one witnessed the author write them.
3. Oral Will
An oral will is one of the least powerful wills. This will is basically the person telling another person about their wishes before they pass away. In almost all cases, oral wills hold no legal value and are dismissed if presented in court.
4. Mutual Will
A mutual will is usually drafted by couples who are married. After the death of a spouse, the property is passed on to the children instead of the surviving spouse. A mutual will should always be drafted in the presence of a will and estate lawyer to ensure it’s not mixed with a joint will.
5. Pour-Over Will
A pour-over will is a type of will that’s used in concurrence with a trust.
A trust is a legal process that allows you to handle how your assets are distributed after you pass away. A pour-over will ensures your assets and property go into the trust. The trust can be used to provide for children who are underage, parents who are old, partners who are unemployed or can’t work, etc.
What if a Person Passes Away Without a Will?
If a person dies without having a will (intestate), the state manages its assets according to laws. The law suggests a straightforward formula dividing half of the assets to the person’s children and the other half to their spouse.
This can result in problems because if a person owns a single property, it has to be sold, and the money needs to be divided equally among all parties involved. This results in difficulties for both the person’s children and their spouse. Even worse, complications can arise if the person’s children are underage, and the division will drag on for years.
Moreover, if you’re not married and you die intestate, your partner will not receive anything. In this scenario, if you have children, everything is divided amongst them equally. If you don’t have children, your parents will get your property and assets divided equally. If only one of your parents is alive, they get everything you own. If none of your parents are alive and you don’t have any children, your siblings get your property and assets divided equally amongst them. Some of these laws may differ in different parts of Canada.
What’s the Best Time to Draft a Will?
Many people believe that a will should only be drafted after you’ve grown old and accumulated plenty of assets and properties. However, this is not the best way to go about it. Experts suggest you should get a will as soon as you turn 18!
A will is not just a document that carries out your wishes after your death; it’s also a tool to keep you and your assets from falling into the wrong hands in case you pass away at a young age in any accident or any other unfortunate event. It helps people prepare for the unexpected.
The legal age requirement for drafting a will is 18 because this is the age at which a teenager is considered to have enough maturity to know what they’re doing. A well-drafted at 18 or any age is not final and can be updated. The best way to keep updating your will is to update it after every five years with the help of your wills and estate lawyer. Updating the will regularly also helps you take into account any other changes in laws, like tax laws, etc.
What if a Person Doesn’t Own Anything?
The answer to this question is pretty much the same. You don’t need to have property or valuable assets before you draft a will. A will can specify whatever assets you have in the future will be divided as per your wishes, which will be stated.
Anything can be named in a will, even things that don’t hold a monetary value. For example, if you have a pet, you can wish for it to be passed on to your spouse, child, friend, or anyone else you wish for. Similarly, if you have underage children, you can name a guardian for them.
Who Executes a Will?
Choosing an executor for your will is an important part of the whole process. An executor is a person who is in charge of distributing your assets the way you planned after you pass away. If a person doesn’t choose an executor, the court appoints a person.
You can name anyone your executor. This can be a family member, like an adult offspring, your spouse, a close friend, or your lawyer. If the division of your assets is complicated, you should choose a wills and estate lawyer to get the job done properly.
An executor has no power over your assets while you are alive because your will holds no legal power.
Hire a Wills and Estate Lawyer
If you’re planning to write a will, you should know it’s best to do it with a lawyer present to guide you along every step of the process. If you’re looking for a wills and estate lawyer in Canada, Nanda & Associate Lawyers can help you.
We have a team of experienced wills and estate lawyers who can ensure your will is drafted according to the laws and will hold in court in case it’s disputed. Moreover, we also have qualified immigration lawyers, civil litigation lawyers, personal injury lawyers, business lawyers, and more. We offer our services in Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton.
Book a meeting with us today to hire our services.
Disclaimer: This article is only intended for educational purposes and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice.