Protecting more than assets: 3 reasons to have a will

One of the most common reasons people put off or decide against creating a will is that they believe they don’t have any assets worth protecting.

However, this line of thinking can prove to be quite costly – not just for the person without the will, but also for his or her loved ones. Chances are, you have more property than you think, including personal property, digital assets and debts. And a will can protect more than assets, as we describe below.

Providing protection for your loved ones

Without a designated estate trustee, a will directs the courts on how and when to distribute your estate. Without guidance from you, British Columbia courts will distribute your property in accordance with the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

This means that any special wishes you have will likely be ignored. Heirlooms you wanted to leave to one person may go to an estranged sibling. The dear neighbour to whom you were very close probably will not receive any gift you might have wanted him or her to have. If you have no next of kin, your property will go to the government instead of charitable organizations you might have supported.

Further, the courts will assign caretakers for your children and administrators for your estate. These may not be the parties you would have chosen yourself.

Streamlining the probate process

When confusion, disputes and other types of complications arise during probate, the process can be longer and more complex. Having a will – and having it readily accessible – provides direction and clear answers to make the probate process easier.

Further, you could minimize the cost of probate by utilizing various estate planning tools, like passing property directly to beneficiaries or placing assets in a trust. This can reduce the value of your estate, which lowers the fees for probate.

Easing the legal burden on others

Making decisions on someone else’s behalf is not easy. This is especially true when people are also coping with immense grief and loss. Instead of requiring your loved ones navigate a complex legal process without a guide or make decisions without any input from you, you should have a will. This can significantly reduce the burden on others who will have to sort through your property, track down assets and make difficult decisions.

So, before you decide not to create a will, stop and think about these and other reasons why it would be best to have one.

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