A Will is a written instrument that directs what happens to your assets upon death.
There are two main types of wills: a formal Will and a holograph Will. A holograph Will has less formal requirements than a formal Will, and refers to a Will that is hand-written and signed by the testator without the need for a witness. A Formal Will is signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses.
There are no hard fast rules on who does or does not need a Will. Having a Will is not a legal requirement but it is especially recommended by most law professionals because it reduces uncertainty and costs for your loved ones.
Who needs a Will?
Married? You need a Will.
If you are married, it is important for you to put in writing whether she or he gets your assets upon your death, this applies to common law partnerships as well. Traditionally, your spouse would likely inherit your things even if you die without a will, but this may not always be the case. Additionally, if you want anyone other than your spouse to receive your assets, you would need to include that in a Will because that may not be the default.
Children? You need a will.
If you have young children, you need a Will to set out the age your children will receive their inheritance, and what the inheritance funds can be used for until they reach that age. For example, you may want your children to receive their inheritance at 25, but that their residence and education can be paid for from their inheritance before the age of 25.
Further, if you want to leave some or all of your assets to your children instead of to your spouse, you will need to say so in your Will. Assume that without your Will, your assets will go to someone you wouldn’t have chosen. Leave nothing up to chance and make sure you have a will that makes your intentions crystal clear.
It is very important that you have a Will in place so that all of the above, and many more, decisions are being made by you, not the Government.
Money in the bank? You need a Will.
If you are one of the lucky ones who is single with no kids and has a lot of cash, you will want a Will. We joke, we joke. However, having a Will allows you to choose the executor that will manage your Estate, and allow you to distribute your assets the way you want them distributed, and not based on a Provincial Legislation.
When you have assets that need to be distributed when you die, it is almost always easier on your family to have a will or a trust in place.
A common rule of thumb is if you get married, have kids, or acquire assets, then it is a good idea to get a Will. A Will is key for your control and certainty over the important decisions that will be made when you die. Such decisions may include:
- Who will manage my estate?
- Who will care for my children?
- Who shall my property be distributed to?
- Have I provided sufficient financial support for my loved ones?
- What will happen to my business?
A Will, properly drafted by Hayes Fry Law, removes the doubt when your estate is administered. Without a Will, your estate’s handling will be determined by the Government and may not reflect what you had intended.
If there are any defects with the Will, the entire document may be declared invalid. This is yet another reason why we recommend consulting with a Hayes Fry Law lawyer in Grande Prairie to ensure that you have a Will that has been properly and legally put together.