It’s that beautiful, wondrous, glorious time of year again….
IT’S MAKE A WILL MONTH!!
It’s that time of year when lawyers, advisors, accountants, and your friendly neighbourhood Viive CEO (That’s me! 👋🏻) spout on and on about everyone's favourite topic: Death.
This year, I’m going to spare you the long-winded lecture (even though those are my specialty!) and provide you with my Top 8 reasons why you should stop, drop everything, and go get yourself a Last Will & Testament, right now. (Yes, right now—because in case you didn’t know, in the year 2023, making a Will is extremely quick and easy!)
1. It gives you control over your life and your death
Once we’re legal adults, we become solely responsible for our own lives—and our own deaths. Do not take this power lightly! The only way you can ensure that your wishes will be adhered to is to make sure they’re recorded in a Last Will & Testament.
2. It lets you choose a trusted person to help out
Right now, you have all the power over your life and your possessions. But once you have died, someone else needs to step into that role. By appointing an Executor in your Will, you’re making sure that the person in the driver’s seat is somebody you trust—someone who will understand your values and your wishes, who will execute them to the best of their ability.
3. It means your stuff will go to the people who actually want it
If you do not have a Will, then (at least here in Ontario) it is the Succession Law Reform Act that dictates who inherits any of your wealth and possessions. If you don’t want that (and I mean, who would?!), then I’d advise you to draw up a Will ASAP. Wills also let you designate recipients for specific objects (like great-grandma’s brooch), name residual beneficiaries, leave a gift to a charity, and more.
4. It lets you choose a final resting place
Cremation, aquamation, or burial… oh my! There are a lot of options for what happens to your body after you pass away. Interestingly, even though most of us really hate talking about death, we still tend to know what we want to happen to us after we die. Once again, the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed is to write them down in a Will (though I also strongly recommend talking to your loved ones about it as well).
5. It lets you take care of your pets (from beyond the grave)
For so many Canadians, pets are like members of the family. But if you were to die tomorrow, do you know what would happen to sweet little Cookie? Oftentimes, the answer is “no.” Well, good news: you can add a clause in your Will laying out a plan for Cookie’s care. Now you can rest assured that whatever happens to you, your furry friends will end up in the best place for them.
6. It lets you recognize your common-law partner
Did you know that the Province of Ontario won’t recognize your common-law partner after you die unless they are named in your Will? Isn’t that crazy? You could spend a lifetime with someone, only for them to miss out on inheriting anything from the life you’ve built together. That is messed up! But in the end, that is unfortunately how it works here in Ontario (for now). If you’re in a common-law relationship, I strongly recommend that you make sure you have a Will in place.
7. It helps you avoid blended family drama
Blended families are becoming more and more common in Canada. But when you are married to Husband #2 and have 3 kids from your first marriage, who do you leave your fortune to? Of course you trust Husband #2 to take care of your kids and give them what you believe is rightfully theirs in the end… but do you trust his next spouse? There are ways for you to protect your wealth and your family, but that requires delicate legal and emotional planning with a lawyer. As always, having a Will is the best way.
8. It saves you time and money
I don’t know about you, but I do not have time to put out fires left, right, and centre in my day-to-day life. If I can make something simple and easy to handle, I do it! The same goes for Estate Planning. I will be the Executor of at least 4 estates one day (possibly as many as 6!) so I’ve made sure that those people have done proper, thorough planning and have excellently drafted Last Wills & Testaments in place. Why? Because it will save me a whole lot of time and energy down the road. Do the same thing for your family and Executor. Make their jobs as easy as possible. In the long run, you’ll be sparing them a lot of potential headaches.
The bottom line
Here's the truth: you are going to die one day. Sorry, but that’s pretty much the one thing you can in fact count on in this life. So why not give it the respect and attention that it deserves? Go get yourself a Last Will & Testament, and then focus on having an amazing life knowing that your loved ones will be supported and well–looked after when you die.