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Do you have an up-to-date will?

Do you have an up-to-date will?

Do you even have one at all? Apparently only 49% of Canadians have a will according to a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute. This means that the other 51% of Canadians would die intestate.

The consequences

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Intestate: adj. not having made a will before one dies: He died intestate.

A will is a legal document that says what is to happen to a person’s property when they die.

If you die intestate, the result comes with serious consequences. Namely:

  • You haven’t chosen who your beneficiaries will be
  • You haven’t chosen who will administer or be the executor of your estate
  • You haven’t planned your estate to minimize taxes
  • You haven’t appointed a guardian for your children (as the case may be)

Essentially, if you die without a will, provincial legislation will govern your estate. These rules and regulations come with standard provisions that may be inappropriate for your personal needs. Having no named beneficiaries would more than likely cause potential problems and is very risky for the loved ones you leave behind. In addition to that, there has been no executor/administrator appointed, which in itself leads to costs, delays and frustration for all parties involved when an estate is being settled.

What is a will?

Drawing up a will is a very important step everyone needs to take. It ensures that the transfer of assets goes to their named beneficiaries after they die. Having an up-to-date will gives them control over the assets that form their estate from the other side of the grave so to speak. Basically, without a will (dying intestate), a person has not specified where or to whom the contents (assets) of their estate goes.

The best time to prepare

As the old saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.” Statistics suggest that the older you are, the more likely you’ll be to have a will. In fact, 91% of Canadians over the age of 65 have a will. However, with people who are under 45, there’s a less than 20% chance that they’ll have a will.

There are often significant events that impel a person to think about getting a will:

  • marriage or entering into a common-law relationship
  • having children
  • starting a business
  • purchasing a significant asset such as a house or vacation property
  • separation or divorce, or even the death of a partner or significant other
  • ill health
  • grandchildren
  • inheritance

Making your will

There are many ways in which an individual can go about making their will. There are “will kits” available online or from bookstores. These are fine in general, but not if you have a complex set of estate issues. As they say, “You get what you pay for.” And when it comes to how you want to dispose of your estate after you die, knowing you’ve set up a proper legal will using a qualified lawyer who specializes in wills and estates may give you more peace of mind. A will set up by a lawyer or notary is less likely to be challenged.

A will is a complex document that needs to be worded very carefully. Considerations about the unique circumstances of each person’s estate ought to be of primary concern. A properly drafted will deals with issues that may not be included in an ‘off the shelf’ or online will, such as:

  • tax issues
  • trusts
  • charitable giving
  • executor’s compensation
  • special needs beneficiaries
  • second marriages
  • step-children and adopted children

Keep in mind that a will represents “your final say.” It’s important to get it right.


You should keep your original will in a secure and, ideally, waterproof and fireproof location. A safety deposit box is not recommended because your executor would be unable to access it there.

Christina Clarance, Wealth Advisor at North Peace Savings and Credit Union. 

Fort St. John is a community that Christina and her family are proud to call home. Having lived in Fort St. John for 9 years, raising her children here, and having her immediate family and friends nearby, she has developed strong and steadfast roots to the region.

As Wealth Advisor, Christina is excited to have the opportunity to support members and clients with sound investment advice that will allow them to achieve their financial goals. Christina’s ability to build a foundation of trust with members allows her to gain the insights and the understanding she needs to provide financial solutions no matter what stage of life a person may be in.

Christina is a licensed Mutual Funds Advisor. Whether you are saving for education, or planning for a comfortable retirement, Christina is here to help you make sense of all the investment strategies available to you and help you to think through your simple and complex financial decisions.

North Peace Saving & Credit Union / Credential Asset Management Inc.

The information contained herein is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon as providing, legal, accounting, tax, financial, investment or other advice, or a solicitation to buy or sell any securities. Economic and market conditions are subject to change and past performance is not indicative of future results.

Mutual funds are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc. The information contained in this email was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete and it should not be considered personal taxation advice. We are not tax advisors and we recommend that clients seek independent advice from a professional advisor on tax related matters. This email is provided as a general source of information and should not be considered personal investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any mutual funds.