A common question that I am often asked is, "Do I Need a Will?" This question also goes hand in hand with, "When do I Need a Will?" or are "Wills only for People with Lots of Money?"
All of these questions really get to the same point, and that is Who should have a will in Ontario? Technically, there is no requirement to have a Will in Ontario. No one can ever force you to make a Will, and it is completely up to you whether to make a Will and when to get around to making your Will.
Ontario has the Succession Law Reform Act, which is legislation that is in place to handle Estates when Ontario residents die without a Will. That means if you do not create a will and plan for your estate, the law in Ontario will make the decisions for you. The Act automatically decides who will manage and receive your Estate upon your death. For some, that might sound fine. For most, however, they will realize that they most definitely should make their own plans instead of leaving it to the legislation. Wills do not only deal with money and property, there are other things that can and should be included in a will. From my perspective as an Estate Lawyer, you absolutely want to have a properly drafted Will.
With a Will you can designate who will make decisions for your Estate once you’ve passed (these decisions are not automatically made by your spouse, as most people believe). You can also designate what happens to your assets and how they are distributed (and even when they will be distributed). Having a Will will also allow you to set out who will act as potential Guardians of minor children. All of this control over your Estate is not possible if you don’t have a Will.
In order to bring these concepts into a more relatable experience, imagine going to a restaurant. Would you walk into a restaurant and ask the Chef to make whatever they want for you, or would you rather be in a situation where you can pick and choose what you want to eat, how its made and when it will come to the table.
If you have been wondering whether or not it is time to make an Estate Plan and Will, call me anytime to learn more about Wills and Estate plans.
Domenic M. Jannetta is an Ontario Lawyer. Domenic practices in the areas of commerical and corporate law, real estate and wills and estate planning.