As cheesy as the title of this post is, it is a good way to describe the importance of a Will. When a loved one passes away, their Will explains the way that they wished their property and estate to be distributed. In Ontario, November is “Make a Will Month”. While we don’t have the same event in Alberta, the importance of having a Will is not something that should be overlooked. A significant number of Canadians do not have a Will.
Let’s start with the basics. A Will is legal document, or combination of documents, that establishes how an individual’s property Will be divided when that individual dies. To be effective, it must be in writing and follow the requirements set out in Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act. The reality is that a Will does more than just tell the individual’s remaining loved ones who gets the money in the bank account. If you have minor children, an important purpose of a Will is directing who should be the one to take care of them, and manage their estates until they come of age. Importantly, a Will also gives the personal representative the legal authority to make decisions for the estate, sell land, and do all the other things required to dispose of an estate. If you don’t have a Will your property Will be distributed according to the rules set out in the Intestate Succession Act. If you leave behind children, the family would have to come to an agreement on who would care for the children, or if no agreement was reached, the court would decide. This means that, while your property and children would eventually be taken care of, the process can be long, costly, and complicated. In the end, things might not end up how you would have wanted. Having an up-to-date Will makes things much easier for your surviving family and friends. If you require assistance with making a Will, our friendly and experienced lawyers would be happy to help you in drafting a Will, and answering any questions you may have. You may also want to consider having a Personal Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney at the same time.