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Why you should make a will, no matter your age


In a recent meeting arranged by one of our advisors, I was speaking with a young person whose spouse had very quickly gone from diagnosis to death – and there was no Will. I’ve had that same meeting a half dozen times over my working life.

You may find it shocking for me to be so blunt in saying it that way, but that falls well short of the shock of becoming a widowed parent of 2 toddlers, muddling through an intestacy. It’s devastating enough to deal with a close death, without that added uncertainty and layer of bureaucracy.

So to the question of when someone should have a Will, my longstanding response is that if you are an adult then be one and make a Will. Understanding that you’re looking for a little more, here’s some reinforcement.

Purpose of a Will generally

A Will allows you to say who will receive what you own at the date of your death, in what proportions and with appropriate strings attached if you wish. Without a Will, the Ontario rules of intestacy will dictate the distribution within your formal family and bloodlines (and no further), but without the benefit of your legally binding wishes, let alone any final thoughts or moral guidance from you.

You may feel you don’t own enough to be bothered, but eventually you will (often without you noticing), and sometimes rights and claims arise as a result of an untimely or accidental death. And really, it’s not about the stuff. It’s about the people around you, particularly those who are financially dependent on you.

Respecting your significant other, and supporting your children in vulnerable circumstances

Once you are in a committed relationship, a Will lets you say “I do” [care], even if you’re not legally married. In fact, a common law spouse has less protection than a married spouse – did you catch that bit about bloodlines above? – meaning your Will is crucial for the continuity of property to your better half.

Beyond that first consideration as spouses transferring between you, as parents you have to think the unthinkable of what happens if you both die, whether at once or in short succession.

Transferring to children is more sensitive, and is almost always more complex. Even more important, minor children must have formal legal family structure. Of course you want this to be in an emotionally supportive home, surrounded by extended family and a social structure that allows them to build fulfilling lives. To the point, your Will is the last word you will be able to offer on guardianship, so its contents and the conversations leading up to its execution are fundamental to your role as a parent.

Even if you’re young and penniless, think of the parents and the family you grew up with

When a child dies first, it can be crushing to parents, whether that child is under their roof or has set forth into the world. Such a ‘death out of order’ can be emotionally, socially and even physically paralyzing for parents. A minor child can’t do much in such tragedy, but as an adult you can make a Will to assure that the estate can be managed as efficiently as possible, helping your parents to begin dealing with their grief.

Speak to your Meridian Wealth Advisor for perspective on these important issues.