Do you have a will? If you answered “No,” you’re not alone.
In fact, nearly 60 per cent of Canadians do not have a will in place, a percentage that’s even higher among younger Canadians aged 25 to 35, says Luke Berard, CFP, an Investment Advisor and Financial Planner with RBC Wealth Management, and a member of Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Legacy Giving Committee.
“That’s a staggering number considering your will is the most important document you’ll have prepared, one that will look after your loved ones after you’re gone,” Berard says.
As a legal document, a will details how you want your property distributed and who will care for any minor children, ensuring your wishes are respected if the unexpected happens. Including a gift to one or more charities in your will can also reduce taxes owing upon your death, and celebrates your legacy of making a difference in the community.
So while a will and estate plan isn’t top of mind for many of us, here’s why it should be, regardless of age or degree of wealth:
1. You determine who will be in charge of your estate after you’re gone – you choose your Executor, who will administer your estate.
2. You ensure your family and loved ones are looked after – A will outlines who your beneficiaries will be, including both loved ones and charitable bequests, and lets you choose a suitable guardian for your minor children. Without a will, you cannot set up a trust for a disabled or minor child.
3. Save your estate time and money – If you die without a will – called “intestate” – the Province has its own laws as to where your assets will go and who will be in control. In this case, the cost of a Court Application after death is far greater, which may cause problems, delays, frustrations and add unnecessary costs for your loved ones.
Because a will can outline as many beneficiaries as you wish, it also lets you leave a legacy to both your loved ones and to charities whose work you support.
“Your legacy giving can have a real and lasting impact on your community and beyond,” Berard reflects. “And in addition to continuing to support a cause that’s important to you, it may also provide substantial tax and estate planning benefits.”
It’s important to know that you can change or revoke a bequest simply by changing your will, assuming you have the capacity to do so. You can also choose to bequeath a percentage of your estate instead of an absolute dollar amount so the amount of your gift is automatically kept in line with the amount of your wealth.
To ensure your own circumstances have been properly considered, it’s always best to speak with a qualified legal advisor, and ideally your financial advisor and tax accountant, to come up with the best plan based on the latest information, Berard notes.
Make-a-Will Week in B.C., Oct. 2 to 8, is an ideal time to learn more about making your will or leaving a legacy gift. Speak to your financial advisor today, or contact Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation at