Many people die without ever having written a Will. When that happens, provincial laws and the courts decide who will settle the estate and who will benefit from the estate. The provincial laws usually divide the estate between the deceased’s closest family. In theory, this can sound like a good thing. In practice it may produce quite undesirable outcomes.
When you die without a Will, you are said to die “intestate”. That means provincial legislation governs your estate. This legislation has a very limited scope of action, and its standard provisions may be unacceptable for your personal needs and peace of mind. This may cause potential problems and is very risky for the loved ones you leave behind. Plus, there is no executor appointed, which leads to costs, delays, and frustration.
9 Consequences of Dying Without a Will
If you don’t believe just how important it is to have a Will, then think about these 9 consequences of dying without one:
1. Without a Will, you do not have an executor. Therefore, someone must be appointed to act as an administrator of your estate. This means potential delay, expense, frustration, and even losses to your estate.
2. There is no opportunity to select guardians for any minor children you may have. This means that the Public Guardian (the government) may be involved in your children’s personal lives. Any parent knows how important it is to make sure that your children are in the hands of someone you know and trust.
3. Your children may not receive the inheritance you want them to receive, and there is no opportunity to provide a trust for them. If your children are minors when you die, this also means that when they reach the age of majority they will receive their entire inheritance in one lump-sum rather than spread out over a reasonable period of time.
4. The Public Trustee is involved in the administration of your children’s share if they are minors. This means the government will decide your child’s financial future. The government will also take a portion of their inheritance as the government’s fee.
5. In the event of a disaster where your entire immediate family dies, your estate may go to a relative that you may have never spoken to, or don’t even like. Instead, with a Will, you may make provisions to create a legacy through charitable giving in the case of a common disaster, or choose another suitable beneficiary.
6. Without a Will, there could be more problems for people who were in common-law and same-sex relationships. Provincial laws have not kept up with the ever-expanding variety of relationships. It is especially important for people in non-traditional relationships to have a Will to protect their loved ones.
7. You are unable to take advantage of tax savings and save money on lawyers and court costs following your death. The cost of drafting a Will is so much lower than paying legal fees when there is no Will.
8. Do you want your estate to go to your grandchildren if their parent (your child) predeceases you? Only a Will can ensure your wishes are carried out in the event a family member dies.
9. Without a Will, a family business or family heirloom may not be kept in your family. When you own something of significant value – like a business or other unique asset – it is very important to plan ahead to avoid potential conflicts, and avoid a forced liquidation of your assets.
Ultimately, without a Will, you are unable to exclude or include various people as your beneficiaries. Without a Will, your family and loved ones are left to the mercy of the law, the government and the courts.