Guest post from our friends at stnce.
There are only two things guaranteed in life, and this article is not about taxes, so we’re gonna get a little morbid here. “Why?” you ask, while feeling young and vibrant. Because a majority of Canadians—and a whopping 90% of Canadian millennials—don’t have a will.
The idea of creating a will may seem grim at this point in your life, but taking care of the what-ifs while you are still young and healthy can eliminate time, money, and suffering for you and your loved ones down the road.
For something as inevitable as death, we sure expend a lot of energy avoiding it. In the spirit of keeping things real, the end of our lives is one of the most important conversations we aren’t having, so let’s have it.
Death is a part of life
May as well face facts. So how prepared do you want to be? If you’re fairly young and healthy, but own property or have savings and investments, have children, or are married or cohabiting, a will is definitely in your best interests.
Plus, recent research shows that women are significantly less likely to have a will than men. Women married to men especially need to consider what will happen to their assets, as they usually outlive their male partners—which means that 90% of Canadian women will at some point in their lives have total control over their finances.
Your will need not be a doom and gloom endeavour. It simply ensures your wishes are known in the eyes of the law. That means everything from what happens with your assets to who’s responsible for taking care of your kids and pets. It’s even a nice way to leave gifts to people or to your favourite charities.
If you struggle with the idea of thinking about your own death, consider this: If you don’t have a will, your assets and belongings get distributed according to a default provincial formula, which likely won’t match your wishes.
A court will split your assets between your closest relatives and won’t take close friends into account. If your relatives can’t be located, the government may even keep your assets. And no matter how close you are to your loved ones, never underestimate the potential for a family battle over the most minor of your possessions.
What a will can do for you
Death may seem decades away—and it may well be!—but life is unpredictable. Wills aren’t solely for the old or financially well-endowed. Even if you don’t have many assets, assigning an executor to your estate helps provide access to the necessary accounts (think internet, phone, and social media) and property to settle your affairs. Even if you don’t own much, something seemingly as simple as clearing out your fridge and personal belongings can be complicated if a legal executor hasn’t been chosen.
Your own will is like a gift to your loved ones from the beyond that gives you a say, at least in spirit, and provides peace of mind—a kind of blueprint for your friends and family to follow for handling the material aftermath of your life during what is likely an emotionally difficult time.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Creating a legally-binding will sounds like it comes with hefty lawyer fees, though, right? Not to worry.
Preparing a will is pretty straightforward, and has been made even easier, more convenient, and more affordable by online platforms like Willful, which walk you through the process and allow you to customize your will as if you were sitting with an estate lawyer—minus the fuss of making appointments and visiting offices. Plus, it’s a great choice if you don’t have a complex estate.
You may think that once you’ve written your will, it’s one-and-done. As life changes, so do our desires, so it’s important to keep it up to date. Check in on your will once a year and ensure it reflects your most current wishes. Updates are especially important after major life events, like marriage, the purchase of a home, the birth of a child, and divorce.
Let’s put the taboo to rest
One last thing: Talk about it. Just like talking about money, talking about death is taboo, but it shouldn’t be. Besides, not talking about it certainly won’t prevent it. So find a way to tell your friends and your loved ones your wishes. Sure, it may make you squirm, but there’s no need for it to be a somber conversation. Transform a heavy topic by keeping it relaxed, open, and honest—and dare we say humorous. Who among us doesn’t appreciate an awkward laugh?
We get it, you’re likely not chomping at the bit to contemplate your inevitable demise, but don’t wait until late in life to plan your end of life. Morbid or not, a will is simply a good idea, because it takes a difficult thing like dying and makes it a little less difficult—not just for you, but for everyone in your life. At the end of the day, it’s an act of love.
stnce is a movement that inspires women to confidently take ownership of their finances through open and informative conversations. Find out more and sign up to get $25 off a will on stnce.ca.