During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen an increase in the number of Canadians who are preparing their wills. Although the survivability rate with COVID is quite high, it seems that there is nothing quite like a pandemic to get people thinking about their own mortality. Furthermore, with many people now isolating at home, they’ve got more time to think about what their final wishes truly are.
There are many reasons why people put off making their wills. They may feel that they don’t need one because they are single or because they don’t have enough assets. Or, they may simply be uncomfortable with the idea because it forces them to think about their own death.
But the truth is, that it is never too early to make a will and you really don’t need to own very much at all for having a will to be worthwhile.
Making a legal will with social distancing
Usually, Canadians who wish to make their wills will do so by first visiting a lawyer. But with social distancing now in place, lawyers have had to find new ways to serve their clients.
The Provincial Government has stepped up to help by eliminating the need to have a witness be physically present during this time. Wills can be witnessed electronically through a real-time audio-visual app provided that there are two witnesses and at least one of those witnesses is a licensee of the Law Society of Ontario.
Why is having a will so important?
The most obvious answer to this question is that a will lets your loved ones know what your final wishes are in regard to the distribution of your estate and for the care of any minor children. If you do not decide these matters before you die in your will, then the government will make these decisions for you under the Succession Reform Law Act (SLRA).
Having your wishes clearly laid out in your will can also help to reduce conflict and red tape for your loved ones after you pass on.
How often should you update your will?
Once you have a will in place, it is important to review it every few years to see if it still aligns with your circumstances and wishes. After a major life change such as a new baby, marriage or divorce, reviewing your will is particularly critical.
A change in martial status makes it particularly urgent that you update you will. This is because under Ontario law, any will that either party had in place prior to getting married is automatically revoked.
Without a will in place, assets of the deceased will be automatically allocated in the following manner according the SLRA:
- The first $200,000 of the estate will go to the surviving spouse with any remaining assets being split between the spouse and any surviving children.
- If there is only one child, any amount above the first $200,000 will be split equally between the spouse and the child.
- If there is more than one child, any amount above the first $200,000 will see one third go to the surviving spouse and the remaining two thirds split equally amongst any children.
The SLRA however does not take into consideration individual circumstances such as blended families, estranged spouses, etc. which can lead to considerable conflict if there is no will in place which clearly spells out the wishes of the deceased.
Contact us today
If you need to make your will, or have your existing will updated, contact us today. It is always the right time to make sure you have a valid will in place, and your loved ones will be thankful that you do.