If you're one of the 56 percent of Canadians who doesn't have a will, you might want to give some serious consideration about drawing one up. With that statistic comes another that experts view as rather disturbing -- the fact that 25 percent of the nation's baby boomers have not given formal consideration about taking care of aging family members.
It might be even more prudent for you to have a will if you're of retirement age, while you're still young enough to make some important decisions in your life for yourself and for the benefit of your loved ones. Thinking ahead might save you and your loved ones some stress down the road.
It's all in the planning
The making of a will or estate planning in general doesn't have to be just for those things that need to be handled after your passing. Planning could also include details regarding who you would like to act on your behalf should you no longer be able to make sound decision regarding issues like finances or health care choices. Having a discussion with your loved ones about these things might be a wise idea. Those talks could include how to care for family members who are elderly.
A survey by a major Canadian banking institution finds that most people who have parents who are 65 or older and have legally binding wills still fail to have a financial plan for their own retirement years. The percentages are low, too, for having powers of attorney in place.
Maybe two is better than one
Some experts even suggest that you have two wills -- one that speaks to financial assets that would go through probate and one for personal assets like life insurance policies, RRSPs, stocks, etc., that do not have to go through probate. Having two wills also provides you with some privacy about your assets that don't have to go through the probate process. You just need to ensure that one will doesn't revoke the other.
Could an estate freeze work to your family's benefit?
If you have a business you would like to leave to your children, you might want to consider a freeze on your estate where you actually halt any growth of your assets and have your heirs become shareholders of the business. Your heirs' shares continue to appreciate while yours stay the same, and this move typically requires the advice and guidance of a lawyer.
In a nutshell, when you think about writing your will, you may have many questions and concerns regarding the process. A British Columbia lawyer who has experience with wills and estate planning can answer all your questions and help you fashion a will that chronicles your wishes and can make life less stressful for your loved ones.