Why a Will?
Your last Will and Testament represents your final opportunity to organize and control the disposition of your estate. Failure to complete your last Will means that a statutory scheme will determine the disposition of your estate. The statutory scheme is far from adequate in addressing all the issues that are typically dealt with in a Will.
Many have already had their Wills completed. For some, however, several years have passed since they have had their Wills reviewed. Certain changes in legislation may require that you alter the provisions in your Will.
For instance, changes in matrimonial law make it incumbent on the maker of the Will to specify that any bequeath given to a beneficiary will not be considered as part of that beneficiary’s assets subject to division and sharing with that beneficiary’s separating spouse. In other words, the inheritance of a beneficiary could be subject to division with that beneficiary’s spouse if a Will does not contain the appropriate exclusion. That should be enough to get you rolling in your grave.
Periodic review of your estate planning is essential. Changes in your personal and financial circumstances may necessitate a change in your Will. For instance, marriage or remarriage may invalidate your Will. Other considerations are separation or divorce, children or adoption of children, any changes of names appearing in the Will, death of an executor, death of a beneficiary, or significant changes in the nature or value of your estate. You should also know that:
1. If you divorce, the gifts to your former spouse are void and the Will is read as though your former spouse predeceased you, unless your Will expresses a different intention;
2. If you make a new Will, you will have likely revoked the former;
3. If you destroy your Will, you will have revoked it;
4. If you purchase more RRSPs, any designations contained in the Will will not apply to those after-acquired RRSPs;
5. If you purchase more life insurance any designation contained in the Will, or any trust or administrative provisions, will not apply to the after-acquired life insurance policies.
Considering the nominal cost of making or altering a will and the legacy of trouble that you may leave behind if a proper Will is not in place, it is for your peace of mind and the benefit of your family and friends to ensure that your Will is in proper order.
All these publications are general discussions, and you should not rely on them as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss with you the issues raised by these publications in the context of your particular circumstances.