Tag: Make a Will Month
Recent reports indicate that Chadwick Boseman is the latest celebrity to die without a Will. His wife is currently seeking to be appointed administrator of his Estate.
This certainly shows that many people, including those with significant assets, often procrastinate when it comes to preparing a Will. The fact is that, no matter how many assets you have, a sound estate plan can help you address any potential tax liabilities, take advantage of certain planning strategies and otherwise make life much easier for your beneficiaries, as addressing an intestate estate can often have its challenges.
The benefits of making a Will are numerous, including (but not limited to) the ability to:
- Decide who gets certain personal items after your death;
- In contrast to an intestacy, provide for your children (if any), particularly if they are minors;
- Consider whether there are any parties who can complicate the distribution of your estate and address potential strategies in response to that;
- Appreciate what assets will form a part of your estate and what assets will flow outside of your estate, as well as the benefits associated with either;
- Take care of any pets that you may have (particularly those that may be expensive to maintain); and
- Decide who will be in charge of administering your estate.
Without a Will, you essentially leave the decisions respecting your assets in the hands of others and more often than not, in the hands of the Court. In certain situations, having no estate plan may fuel disagreements between your heirs which may leave long lasting effects on family relationships.
I, for one, think these are great reasons to make an estate plan!
Incidentally, it is “Make a Will Month” with the Ontario Bar Association. Click here for more details.
Thanks for reading.
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The book “The Beautiful Ones” was released last week in Canada. Part memoir (until his teenage years) and part biography, the book provides some insights into the life of one of the most influential musicians of our time. “Prince” Rogers Nelson, a multi-talented singer-songwriter died on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57 from an accidental fentanyl overdose at his estate outside Minneapolis. He died without a will.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reported about two weeks later, on May 8, 2016 that: “Suddenly, wills and estates are a topic everyone wants to learn about.” And “They are talking about it at the family barbecue, the Rotary Club, and the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce”.
According to several surveys, approximately 65% of Canadians do not have an “up to date” will. “Make a Will Month” encourages Canadians to make or update their wills. Doing so can save a lot of expense, delay, and conflict in the future. A proper will and estate plan means reducing or eliminating problems that arise when a person dies intestate (without a valid will). It has been reported that three years after his death Prince’s estate is still not distributed. Lawyers for his sister and half-siblings are squabbling. Claims by some alleged descendants have been dismissed. According to some estimates the estate is worth more than $300 million USD.
All kinds of people, including famous musicians, die without having made a valid will. Some who did not get around to making a will include: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Salvatore “Sonny” Bono, Duke Ellington, Barry White, George Gershwin, and Amy Winehouse.
Why wait? It is Make a Will Month! Please consider making a will. Thanks!
November has drawn to a close and, with it, the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) and the Toronto Public Library’s (TPL) Make-a-Will Month program, where estate professionals are connected with the community to help them understand the importance of having a will and powers of attorney.
In presenting at one of the Make-a-Will Month sessions, the need for this initiative was readily apparent. I was met with a high level of attendee participation and a myriad of questions about wills and powers of attorney. The following information seemed particularly helpful to impart:
- The benefits of making a will, including having control over your choice of executor, tax minimization, protecting assets from creditors, providing for charitable gifts and allowing for staggered entitlement to ensure beneficiaries don’t prematurely spend their inheritance;
- The consequences of not having a will, including the inflexible entitlement scheme under the Succession Law Reform Act and the unwanted impact this could have in situations where, for instance, you would not want to benefit relatives equally or immediately upon your death (e.g. spouses are separated, immediate family members are estranged, and intestate beneficiaries are minors); and
- The elements of a will, how to revoke it and the grounds upon which to challenge its validity.
Powers of Attorney
- The different types of powers of attorney a grantor may select (e.g. springing, enduring, limited and general); and
- The difficulties that may be caused by not having a power of attorney in place, including the costly and potentially protracted process of pursuing a guardianship appointment.
I was so pleased to participate in the Make-a-Will Month program, and applaud the continuing efforts of the OBA and TPL to share vital information with the public.
Thanks for reading and have a great day,
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The Ontario Bar Association (“OBA”) has once again designated November as “Make a Will Month”. Approximately 56% of Canadians do not have a will. This issue first arose in a 2012 LawPRO survey and has been confirmed as an ongoing concern according to a CIBC survey in August 2015.
Furthermore, according to this article in the Law Times, the percentage of lawyers who do not yet have wills is about the same as in the general population. According to Jordan Atin, many of the factors that might discourage someone from taking the time to make a will, apply equally to lawyers. Among the various factors, the most obvious is the perception that making a will is a long, complicated process and that having that conversation is not an easy thing to do.
However, the estate planning process does not have to be something awful. Mr. Atin’s experience is that clients almost always feel relieved after they finally make their will. Despite the time and potential stress involved in the will-making process, the peace of mind that will come afterward should serve as a motivating factor.
This year’s “Make a Will Month” may be even more important than it has been in the past. Notwithstanding the fact that everyone should have a will regardless of the month, as of January 1, 2016, there will be some changes to the rules governing testamentary trusts, as has been discussed on this blog before . Going forward, tax treatment of testamentary trusts will be much different than in the past. Graduated Rate Estates (GREs) will no longer be available for testamentary trusts that continue past the first three years following a testator’s death. There will also be a shift in responsibility for income tax to a surviving spouse’s estate rather than a deceased spouse’s estate.
If you have not already made your will, consider participating in the OBA’s “Make a Will Month”, as well as seeking advice with respect to the upcoming changes to the rules.
Thanks for reading.