I was at a social event not long ago and was speaking to a group of people about the importance of making a Will and part way through the conversation one of the individuals in the group spoke up and stated something to the effect of, I’m a healthy thirty-year-old and I don’t have kids – what’s the point of making a Will? This is a question that comes up frequently in my estate planning and administration practice, which I’m always happy to answer because I think it is so important to educate people on the importance of making a Will.
Who Can Make a Will
There is no law in Ontario that stipulates that only individuals above the age of thirty, individuals with kids, or individuals with significant assets may make Wills. On the contrary, any capable individual that is 18 years of age or older may make a Will in Ontario, and in certain limited circumstances, minors may also make a Will. The circumstances in which individuals under the age of 18 may make a Will are outside the scope of this article but are set out in the Succession Law Reform Act, R.S.O.1990, c. S.26. Similarly, there is no minimum asset ownership requirement to make a Will and you certainly do not need to be married or have children to make a Will.
The Importance of Making a Will
The importance of making a Will exists at any age, regardless of your marital status and regardless of whether you have children, health issues, own one piece of real property, or multiple properties, as death does not discriminate. The presence of any one of the foregoing characteristics, however, serves to increase the importance of making a Will.
Making a Will allows you to prepare for the unexpected and provides you with the comfort of knowing that you’ve made things just a little bit easier for your loved ones when you pass away. Below are only some of the reasons it’s important to make a Will:
- Having a Will in place will simplify the administration of your estate on your death, reducing the time spent, and expense of administering your estate.
- The use of multiple Wills (Primary and Secondary Wills) may help to reduce the amount of probate tax payable on your death.
- A Will enables you to choose who inherits your estate when you pass away. In Ontario, if you pass away without a Will, you are deemed to die “intestate” and the laws of intestacy set out in the Succession Law Reform Act¸R.S.O.1990, c. S.26. will govern the distribution of your estate.
- A Will enables you to provide for the future of your minor children or incapable adult children by establishing trusts in your Will to provide for their ongoing financial support and maintenance after you have passed away.
- A Will enables the testator (the individual making the Will) to name someone to temporarily have decision-making authority concerning their minor children, in the event of the death of the testator, if they are the sole person with decision-making authority in respect of the children, or if both parents die at the same time.
The above is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of making a Will. If you are interested in making a Will or learning more about the benefits of making a Will or the type of Will that is right for you, please contact Lauren Kason at Mills & Mills LLP.