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When you should write your will and why

When people think of wills they ultimately think of death— and no matter which way you slice it, it’s a topic we’re all too happy to avoid. Our mortality is not a sexy subject, but it’s time to move estate planning out of the shadows of our own fears.

The truth is estate planning, having a will, assigning a Power of Attorney is not really about death. It’s about providing guidance to the people you love and giving yourself peace of mind knowing you have all your affairs in order. It’s about caring for the lives beyond our own.

At Willful, we make sure families everywhere are protected and provided for.

 

So when should I write a will?

While there’s no time limit to when you can write your will (er…well besides the obvious), there are common triggering events. Below are 5 common life moments where you should be getting your estate planning documents printed and signed for safe keeping.

 

1 | After you open a savings and/or investment account

Perhaps the amount in your current chequing account doesn’t seem to be anything worth writing home about, let alone writing a will. But once you start putting money into things like a TFSA, RRSP or any other personal investment accounts, the future value of your estate grows.

While these assets may name beneficiaries explicitly, in the event a beneficiary has already passed away the funds will be payable to your estate. Having your Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney for Property will make sure you control how this is divided and who you’d like to put in charge for handling this in case of death or incapacitation.

While amounts may be modest to begin with, saving and investing should signal estate planning to make sure your money is divided according to your wishes.

 

2 | After you invest in or accumulate a collection of valuables (assets)

Your estate generally includes assets such as a home, vehicles, collections, land, or digital assets that are in your name only. In the event of your death, an inventory will be created to record these possessions and their combined value. Beyond what you may owe (such as debts or taxes) the rest will be divided amongst your named beneficiaries. You can even leave specific gifts for loved ones like a record collection or piece of jewelry.

In the event you don’t have a will at the time of your death (known as “intestate”), the government will divide your estate according to the current laws and regulations. Your family structure may be straightforward but many are not. A will helps to make sure anyone you’d like to provide for is not overlooked.

 

3 | After you buy a home

As mentioned above, owning an asset such as a home (or multiple homes) should trigger estate planning as naturally as it triggers purchasing insurance. For most people, this is when they feel ready to create their legal wills and choose a Power of Attorney because they have an asset worth a substantial amount of money.

Buying a home can also mean moving. If you have moved out of the province or country, you’ll need to make sure the will you have or write follows the law in your jurisdiction. At Willful, we partner with lawyers from each province to ensure the legality of your documents in the province where you reside.

 

4 | After you find a life partner

I was single for a very long time and that meant everything from beneficiaries on life insurance to emergency contacts etc were always filled in with my sister’s name. While she’s still one of the most important people in my life, having a long-term partner has changed the way I think about these important decisions and who I would assign responsibility and gifts to in the event of my passing.

Most people write their first wills after their wedding as part of a long checklist of documentation that is created such as name changes, joint accounts and more.

 

5 | After you have your first child

There are so many things that change in life when a child is born…and not just the sleepless nights. Willful helps create the legal documents no parent should be without so they can decide how they wish to provide for their children and their futures.

Your estate documents also name the guardians you choose to take care of your child/children in the event that both parents pass away. If your children are under the age of majority, make sure you have the discussion with their chosen guardians as this is a huge responsibility. Having this in writing is a sure way to avoid chaos, confusion and custody issues.

 

Updating your will

Just as these triggering milestones will lead many to prepare their first round of estate documents, there are usually more changes and events that will require you to update your will and Power of Attorney documents. These could include getting remarried, having multiple children, new family structures, the loss of your executor or guardians and other unpredictable changes.

Many people choose Willful for this reason: free unlimited changes. Updating with a lawyer requires another appointment and payments with each update. Other online services require membership payments to access your documents for edits and reprints. Our mission to make estate planning as simple, affordable and accessible as possible, which is why we chose to create transparent and uncomplicated pricing.

 

Regardless of when you decide to write your will, the future of estate planning is no longer tedious and confusing with the help of technology. As the process gets easier and more elegant over time, we hope that the subject of what happens after we’re gone gets easier to talk about too.

 

Peace of mind in 20 minutes (or less!)

Willful is an online estate planning service that helps you create the necessary legal documents to help protect and provide for your loved ones. In partnership with lawyers from each province, our step-by-step guided process can generate your Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care (sometimes referred to as Living Will) in no time at all. Our plans start as low as $99 and included unlimited changes for all of life’s twists and turns. Get started at Willful.co

Use the code PLANSWELL for 15% off any Willful Plan.

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