Since Chera Law Firm opened its doors in October, clients and prospective clients have asked the question “do I really need a will”. The short answer is…it depends. Some of the key factors impacting the decision are your marital status, if you have children, the nature and ownership structure of your assets, and the value you place on the benefits of having a Will. As a result, a careful examination of your circumstances is required to provide the appropriate advice.
However, what we can tell you is that in the absence of a Will, Ontario law provides that your property (i.e. assets, possessions, etc.) will be distributed pursuant to a ranking system contained in Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act. The ranking system distributes your property to certain family members depending upon the nature of your relationship.
For example, if you are married with one child and the net value of your property exceeds $200,000, in the absence of a Will upon your death the first $200,000 of the net value of your property would go to your spouse with one half of the remainder going to your spouse and the other half to your child. For many this may be an unacceptable result as many spouses prefer that their entire property pass to the other spouse and only upon the death of the remaining spouse shall the property pass to the child.
Moreover, the Provincial Government would be entitled to your property in the event that the family members referred to in Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act do not exist.
Therefore, aside from asking whether a Will is needed, individuals without a Will should also be asking themselves “what amount of control do I want to have over the distribution of my property upon my death?” Do you want to decide or do you want a formula provided under the Succession Law Reform Act to decide? A carefully drafted Will can provide an individual with greater control and certainty of how one’s property will distributed upon their death.
Wait…there is more! Control is just one of the benefits associated with having a Will. Additional benefits include:
- the ability to influence who will have guardianship over your minor children;
- cost savings, such as the potential to avoid incurring estate administration tax (probate fees);
- simplifying the administration of your estate;
- reducing the potential for family in-fighting over assets;
- ensuring that the appropriate legal and financial structures, such as a trust, are in place to provide for your children and/or spouse in your absence.
How can Chera Law Firm help?
First, we can provide a consultation to discuss the benefits of a Will and the implications of not drafting a Will in your particular situation. Second, we have the proficiency to carefully draft a Will that will provide you value and peace of mind.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jatinder S. Chera.
*Please note that this is not intended to be legal advice, but a general, non-comprehensive discussion.