One of the most frequent questions people ask me is “Do I need a will?”. When I say yes, everyone over the age of 18 who is competent to make a will should do so, the reply is often, “Well, I don’t own anything.”
Firstly, if you have children, even if you think you don’t own anything, you absolutely need to make a will. A will is the only way in Ontario that you can appoint who should take care of your children in the event that both you and their other parent were to die. I could go on about more reasons why parents need to make a will, but that is the most basic and essential reason.
Secondly, are you sure you don’t actually own anything? Do you have a bank account? Are you entitled to receive recurring income from employment or other sources? Do you own life insurance? Do you have any sort of pension, RRSPs, RESPs, no matter how small? Do you own any investments, GICs, mutual funds, Savings Bonds, etc? Do you own a car, a motorcycle or other personal property? Do you rent an apartment? Is there furniture, a TV, stereo equipment, et cetera in your apartment or your residence? Do you own a bicycle or musical instruments? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you own something.
When you own something, that “stuff” needs to go somewhere if you die. Your Will can say who gets your property and who deals with distributing your property (and dealing with your burial and other matters) after you die.
Also, if you rent an apartment or a house, someone will need to clear that out and terminate your lease with the landlord.
If you don’t have anything in place when you die, do you know who would step forward to make arrangements and deal with the items you left behind? Do you know if they would be able to deal with your items without a will? Do you know if they would have enough money to make funeral arrangements? Do you know if they would need to apply to the court to administer your estate (which could end up costing more than the value of your estate’s assets)?
These are all things that a lawyer can talk to you about so you can figure out what it is that you want to happen after your death and make a plan so your loved ones know what to do.
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Michele R.J. Allinotte is the owner of Journey Law Professional Corporation in Cornwall, Ontario and she helps her clients make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their businesses. Her practice focuses on the areas of business law, estate planning and real estate. Visit www.YourCornwallLawyer.com to get more information about us and our services.