A Will is a legal document that outlines the distribution and management of your estate upon your death. A Will is the simplest and most efficient way to dictate how you would like your estate (property and possessions) to be distributed after your death. Your Will should name an executor, which is a person who is assigned to manage the distribution of your estate, carry out the terms outlined in your Will, and oversee related decisions.
A Will is critically important for providing clear directive to relatives and estate stakeholders as to how your assets are distributed, which significantly aids in lessening tension and potential issues related to asset distribution that can occur within families following a death.
If you have minor children, your Will is also critical in naming who would be a guardian for your children and how they will be cared and provided for in the event of your death.
Why do I need a will?
The most important value that a Will provides is clear decision making regarding distribution and management of your estate following your death. In the event that you do not have a Will, your estate will be subject to the laws of intestacy, which usually means that your estate would go directly to your closest relative. This may vary depending on which province or territory that you reside in, as well as the degree of complexity of your estate.
When should I get a new will or change an existing will?
If you already have a Will, but need to make small changes to it, a document called a Codicil may be used in addition to your Will. If you only have a few simple changes, a Codicil is preferable than drafting an entirely new will. A Codicil is a short document (1-2 pages) which accompanies and amends your current Will.
We typically recommend a thorough review of your Will every 7-10 years and anytime there is a significant change in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child or additional children, or acquisition of significant assets to your estate. We often encounter couples and individuals who have very outdated Wills which can lead to significant complexities and additional grief for their families when managing their estate.
Why should I have a lawyer prepare my will?
A will is a legal document. While some Will kits and online guides may assist you with preparing the various elements required to create your Will, they simply cannot cover all aspects of estate planning and proper Will execution.
A lawyer will ensure that all of your documents are properly prepared and witnessed, and that your wishes are accurately expressed in a manner that can be legally enforced if need be. Our team of lawyers at Jones Divorce and Family Law bring significant experience in preparing and executing Wills and Codicils.