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Don’t be an Idiot, Get a Will already

It’s rather sad to think about but as much fun life can be it must come to an end.  For richer or poorer, everyone dies and without a Last Will and Testament (i.e., Will) the government (not you) decides how your assets will be distributed.  Regardless of your assets, you have the right to decide how your estate will be managed.

Why are you calling me an idiot?

As the last legally binding document representing an individual life’s, a Will provides instructions for disposition of assets after death.  Distribution of assets in an appropriate manner can assure the welfare of your family and friends or effective distribution of assets to causes and programs you cared deeply about.  When no Will exists, the law deems you have died “inestate” meaning you have no way of informing how your property and assets are to be distributed.  The distribution of your assets will be managed by a predetermined legislated formula which can mean many things:

  • The person administering your estate may not be someone you know or trust.
  • The cost of administering your estate will in all likelihood be higher.
  • The delays in administering your estate can be lengthy.
  • There may be squabbling over property and assets in the family because your intentions are unknown.

A death in the family is bad enough.  Dealing with someone’s messy estate can make a troubling experience even worse.

Why you need to get a Will

All provinces have rules about how estates are to be managed.  If you don’t have a Will, your estate could be managed VERY differently from what you had intended.  A Will can help you achieve the following:

  • Provide for your loved ones in ways you had always intended.
  • Secure responsible guardians for your children or dependents.
  • Distribute assets and cherished belongings according to your desires.
  • Communicate what was important to you, to whom and why.
  • Leave a legacy by sharing what you want to see continued in the future.

Until my early 30s, having a Will wasn’t top of mind.  Going back a few years my wife and I didn’t have many assets and we had no dependants so I figured there wasn’t much point.  While not much has changed years later, I’ve recognized the value of a Will and the negative impacts of not having one on those I care deeply about.  My attitude has definitely changed and hopefully this post has changed or improved yours.

What are your thoughts on Wills?

Filed in: Wills

24 Responses to "Don’t be an Idiot, Get a Will already"

  1. Mark,

    This is very well-written and gets to the point. So important for everyone – why would you want the government to have your money?

  2. Eddie says:

    Mark!
    Great point on the will, haven’t thought about getting one myself, mostly because I have no dependents. Something to think about for the future.
    Cheers.

    Eddie

  3. Bill James says:

    If you have all your assets in registered funds, annuities and insurance, you don’t need a will, idiot.

  4. Liquid says:

    Really good argument for getting a will. I am looking into this as well and will probably do one as soon as I get married some day. Might also set up a power of attorney for myself as well just in case. For families with children, wills should be an essential part of their financial planning.

    • Yeah, I think after you get married, it definitely changes things. You’re spot on about your comment about the need for a Will once kids are involved. Thanks for your comment! I will be by your site later this week.

  5. MG says:

    Hello Advisor,
    Prudent advice about getting a will.

    The other thing that goes hand in hand with a will is a power of attorney – and I believe that there are more than one type which should be considered!

    MG

    • Thanks MG, and for stopping by. POA (Power of Attorney) is very important like you mentioned, as well as POPC (Power of Personal Care), but those are other posts :)

  6. Lazy Investor says:

    After the Iphone review, I thought that you had mentioned a Wii :)

    With a kid now, We’re thinking about it!

  7. Dan Mac says:

    I’ve given setting up a will a thought before for my wife and I however I just haven’t been convinced yet that we need one. Currently we have no children and unsure about the prospect of having them in the future. Also we aren’t too wealthy yet (working on it though!) so not too worried about a smooth transition of our small estate to any heirs. Do you think a will would be beneficial for someone in my situation? I’ve gone back and forth on it but haven’t got it figured out yet. Thanks!

  8. We’re in the process of getting one setup ourselves…

  9. Great post. What really gets me upset is when a prospective client calls and is all gung ho about investing, owning rental properties and the like, yet has not put a will in place with a named guardian for his young children. Just as bad is when he or she has no life insurance in place. Just like football is about the basics, blocking and tackling, people need to have the basics in place in their financial life first.

    • Hey Roger,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I can totally see how bad that situation could get. No doubt many get the financial basics wrong, as fundamental as they are. Too busy spending money I guess? :)

      Come back again soon.

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