Difference between revisions of "Why You Should Consider a Will"

From Clicklaw Wikibooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search
 
(24 intermediate revisions by 2 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
{{REVIEWEDPLS | reviewer = [[People's Law School]] |date= January 2016}}
{{REVIEWEDPLS | reviewer = [[Stephen Hsia|Stephen Hsia]]|date= January 2019}}{{Preparing Your Will TOC}}
{{Writing Your Will TOC}}
A '''will''' is a legal document that explains what you want done with your property after you die.   
[[File:writingyourwill-contents1.png|thumb|275px|right| link=| <span style="font-size:50%;">Image via www.istockphoto.com</span>]]A '''will''' is a legal document that leaves instructions about what the person making the will wants done with their '''assets''' and obligations after they die.   


=== Why should I make a will? ===
== A will makes your wishes clear ==
A will helps ensure the things you own go to the people you want to have them. It gives you some control over what happens to your '''estate''' after you’re gone.  Preparing a will lets you choose an '''executor'''. This is a person who carries out the instructions in the will. If you’re a parent, you can also appoint a guardian to care for any children under age 19 after your death.


Making a will gives you some control over what happens to your '''estate''' after you die. Your estate is made up the property and possessions, also known as the assets, that you own at your death (with some exceptions explained below). With a will, you can make sure the things you own go to the people you want to have them.
{{PLSStorybox
| image = [[File:Preparing_Your_Will_-_Maria.png |link=]]
| text      = ”I’ve decided I need to prepare a will. My sisters both want me to leave my opal ring to them. It belonged to our mother and is a family heirloom. Unless I put in writing who the ring should go to, I just know there’ll be a fight about it later.” <br/>– Maria, Nanaimo}}


A will can also help the people who outlive you. They can feel sure that they are carrying out your wishes. Putting your intentions into a will can help save your family members and those you leave things to time, effort and money.  
== A will helps those you leave behind==
A will is a map for those you leave behind. Having a clear statement of your wishes helps your loved ones feel confident they’re carrying those wishes out. Knowing your intentions will save them time, stress, and money at a difficult time.


{{PLSExamplebox
== What happens when you die without a will ==
| text = Maria is considering making a will. Both her sisters want her to leave her opal ring to them. The ring originally belonged to their mother, and is a family heirloom. Maria knows that unless she is very clear in her will about who should have the ring, there will be family conflict later.
}}


=== What happens if I die without a will? ===
Without a will, your successors will effectively be left guessing about what you would have wanted. With no proof of your wishes, the law kicks in. Your property is divvied up according to rules set out in the ''Wills, Estates and Succession Act''.  
If you die without a will, there is no way to prove what your wishes were. The law dictates how your estate will be divided. The rules are set out in the [http://canlii.ca/t/8mhj ''Wills, Estates and Succession Act'']. For example, if you have a spouse and no children, your estate passes to your spouse. If you have a spouse and you had children together, your spouse gets the first $300,000 value of your estate and half the balance; the other half of the balance is divided equally among your children.  
'''The law may not reflect your wishes about who you want to inherit your property.'''
For example:
* If you have a '''spouse''' but no children, your estate will pass to your spouse.
* If you have a spouse ''and'' children — all of whom are also your spouse’s children your spouse will get the first $300,000 of your estate and half of what’s left over. The other half will be divided equally among your children.
* If you have no spouse or children, your estate will be distributed to descendents, parents, or other relatives. If no relatives can be found, the estate will go to the government.


There are further rules depending on the combination of relatives alive at the time of your death. The estate goes to the government if no relatives can be found.
'''If you die without a will, someone may need to apply to court to become administrator of the estate'''. Once approved, the administrator has the authority to distribute your '''assets'''. The administrator is often your spouse or adult child. If no one steps forward, the '''Public Guardian and Trustee''' may apply to become administrator.  


Another result if you die without a will is that the court has to appoint someone called an '''administrator''' to deal with your estate. That person, usually a spouse or child, needs to file documents in British Columbia Supreme Court that ask the court to appoint the person to administer the estate.  
== You don’t have to prepare a will ==
Under the law, you don’t have to prepare a will. But it’s a good idea. Preparing a will helps ensure fairness, accuracy, and peace of mind all around. It makes sure your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of.


If there is no one who applies to administer the estate, then the '''Public Guardian and Trustee''' takes responsibility.
{{PLSStorybox
| image = [[File:Preparing_Your_Will_-_Janet.jpg |link=]]
| text      = “My sister Susan died without a will. A year before, she told me what she wanted done with the things she owned. Her car was supposed to go to me. But without a will, there’s no way to prove it. So everything is going to her daughter, Amy.”  <br/>– Janet, Vernon}}


=== Do I have to make a will? ===
{{Preparing Your Will Navbox}}
 
The law does not say that you have to make a will. However, by making one you can make sure that your wishes about inheritance are respected.
 
{{PLSExamplebox
| text = Susan died without a will. A year before, Susan had told her sister Janet what she wanted done with the things she owned. Susan’s wishes included giving her car to her sister. But without a will, the law dictates how Susan’s estate is divided. In Susan’s case, everything in her estate will go to her only child, Amy.
}}
 
=== Does a will deal with everything I own? ===
No. A will generally doesn’t cover property that you don’t own exclusively. For example, a joint bank account or a house owned in joint tenancy has a "right of survivorship." When you die, any jointly owned properties will automatically become the exclusive property of the other joint owner. This property doesn’t form part of your estate.
 
Also, property where you have designated a '''beneficiary''' doesn’t form part of your estate. The beneficiary is entitled to receive the proceeds on your death. Common examples include a life insurance policy or a retirement benefit plan.
 
=== How is a will different from a power of attorney or representation agreement? ===
 
A will takes effect only after you die. A '''power of attorney''' and a '''representation agreement''' are ways to plan for the handling of your affairs '''during your lifetime'''.
 
With a power of attorney, you can give someone the legal power to take care of financial and legal matters for you while you are still alive. With a representation agreement, you can give someone the legal power to take care of health care and personal care matters.
 
Both a power of attorney and a representation agreement cease to have effect when you die.
 
=== I’ve heard the term "living will"; what is that? ===
 
A "living will" is not a legal document in British Columbia. The term has been used to describe a person’s wishes for their health care treatments, and particularly treatments they do not want in an end-of-life situation. The options available in British Columbia to address health care wishes for an end-of-life situation are a '''representation agreement''' or an '''advance directive'''. Both are ways to plan for health care decisions that may need to be made before you die. 
 
{{Writing Your Will Navbox}}


{{Creative Commons for PLS
{{Creative Commons for PLS
|title = Writing Your Will
|title = Preparing Your Will
|author =  
|author =  
}}
}}
__NOGLOSSARY__
__NOGLOSSARY__

Latest revision as of 18:11, 8 March 2019

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stephen Hsia in January 2019.

A will is a legal document that explains what you want done with your property after you die.

A will makes your wishes clear

A will helps ensure the things you own go to the people you want to have them. It gives you some control over what happens to your estate after you’re gone. Preparing a will lets you choose an executor. This is a person who carries out the instructions in the will. If you’re a parent, you can also appoint a guardian to care for any children under age 19 after your death.

A will helps those you leave behind

A will is a map for those you leave behind. Having a clear statement of your wishes helps your loved ones feel confident they’re carrying those wishes out. Knowing your intentions will save them time, stress, and money at a difficult time.

What happens when you die without a will

Without a will, your successors will effectively be left guessing about what you would have wanted. With no proof of your wishes, the law kicks in. Your property is divvied up according to rules set out in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

The law may not reflect your wishes about who you want to inherit your property. For example:

  • If you have a spouse but no children, your estate will pass to your spouse.
  • If you have a spouse and children — all of whom are also your spouse’s children — your spouse will get the first $300,000 of your estate and half of what’s left over. The other half will be divided equally among your children.
  • If you have no spouse or children, your estate will be distributed to descendents, parents, or other relatives. If no relatives can be found, the estate will go to the government.

If you die without a will, someone may need to apply to court to become administrator of the estate. Once approved, the administrator has the authority to distribute your assets. The administrator is often your spouse or adult child. If no one steps forward, the Public Guardian and Trustee may apply to become administrator.

You don’t have to prepare a will

Under the law, you don’t have to prepare a will. But it’s a good idea. Preparing a will helps ensure fairness, accuracy, and peace of mind all around. It makes sure your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of.


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Preparing Your Will © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.