Do I need a will?

This is generally a question for a lawyer or paralegal who specializes in wills and estates, but recently I had a discussion with one of my accounting colleagues who asks all clients if they have a will and if it’s up to date.

So, why do you need a will? The short answer is you want to protect your assets and make sure the assets you have worked hard for over your lifetime, go to who or what you want them to.

As accountants, we don’t write wills, but what we can do,  is assist with the tax and estate planning including giving you some feedback on taxes that may come due on your death, and to help mitigate these taxes, to provide maximum value for your beneficiaries.

If you die intestate (without a will) in Ontario, your assets will be divided based on the succession law reform act, which will divide assets to the spouse and/or closest next of kin, such as children, for example. But if you had intentions of making a bequest to a favourite charitable organization, this wish will not be carried out without a will, and could also mean that the crown, in some cases, would get your remaining assets.

Beyond just having a will, you also want to make sure to review it and update it when you have major life changes. For example, new spouse/partner, new child, inheritances, and new business investments, just to name a few.

Also, you should make sure you update your executor and have a competent backup executor, who knows where your will is kept and can get access to it upon your passing. This executor could be a family member, trusted friend, or professional such as your accountant or lawyer.

If you have any questions with regards to tax and estate planning or would like a referral to a lawyer or notary to write a will, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, as we would be more than happy to help.

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