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.