Why Every Canadian Should Have a Will and Estate Plan - dummies

Why Every Canadian Should Have a Will and Estate Plan

By Margaret Kerr, JoAnn Kurtz

Part of Wills & Estate Planning For Canadians For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Why do you need a will and an estate plan? It may not be fun to think about, but after you’re gone you won’t have a say in some pretty important matters unless you let your wishes be known. Who will take care of your children? What will happen to your business, your property, or those valuable heirlooms passed down for generations? How can you reduce the taxes on your estate?

This article uncovers the benefits of wills and estate plans and the pitfalls you can avoid simply by planning for the future.

  • Your family won’t starve in the cold. Without an estate plan you may not leave enough money to your family to make sure they’ll always be warm and well fed.

  • Less of your estate will pay a permanent visit to the income tax department. Without an estate plan you won’t be able to take advantage of tax-saving strategies.

  • Your family won’t have to weep before a judge to get the right to manage your estate. If you don’t make a will naming an executor, someone close to you will have to start a court proceeding to be appointed the administrator of your estate. Until the court makes a decision, no one will be able to touch your property.

  • Your estate won’t lose money after your death. Without a will you won’t be able to give an executor flexibility to sell or keep certain property and to make bold investment decisions.

  • Your estate will be able to pay off your credit cards and still have something left for your family to go on a shopping spree. With an estate plan, your estate may not have the money it will take to pay off your creditors and hand over a good sum to your family.

  • Your family will be able to keep the heirloom brass spittoon lovingly handed down from generation to generation instead of getting cash with no sentimental value. Without a will, your administrator may have to sell your property and hand out cash.

  • The business you built up from scratch can be more easily passed on to the person of your choice — or at least not sold at a loss. Without an estate plan, you can’t be sure where the business will end up and how much it will be worth when it gets there.

  • Your children will be cared for. Without a will, your wishes about who will look after your children may never be known.

  • Your provincial government won’t be playing piggy bank with your children’s money. Without a will that sets up a trust for young children until they come of age, the provincial government will hold any property you leave the kids — until they reach the age of majority.

  • Your provincial government won’t be playing piggy bank with all your money. Without a will, your property will be given away to your lawful husband or wife and blood relatives according to rules set by provincial law. If you don’t have a lawful spouse or any blood relatives — even though you have a long-time companion, a lover, friends, or a favourite charity — your property will all go to the provincial government.