All About Estates

Why Should Young People Have a Will? [1]

You are in your mid to late twenties, you may or may not be married, you may or may not own property, and you probably feel that you do not need a Will since you “don’t have anything”. While that may be true, there are many other benefits to a Will that do not relate to the quantum of assets you might own.

Easing your family’s burden: Regardless of whether or not you have significant assets, you likely have a bank account, may have a car, a few credit cards, and maybe even some loans. To be able to access all of these assets, your family will need an estate trustee. Many third parties, such as banks, may require a court-issued certificate of appointment of an estate trustee before any assets are released or any accounts are managed[2]. If you die without a Will, your family will need to go through a court process to appoint an estate trustee[3]. You will also be unable to choose who you think would be the ideal estate trustee. Rather, the court process and your family members’ interests will decide the matter for you (consent of persons who together have a majority interest in the assets of the estate are required for a particular estate trustee to be appointed).

Taxes: No matter their age, everyone cares about paying taxes. Without a Will, the Estate Administration Tax will be payable on most or all of your estate. There are multiple ways to reduce or avoid these fees through a properly drafted Will and legal advice: by designating beneficiaries on plans including a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), creating a trust, or having multiple Wills[4]. Without seeking legal advice and drafting a Will, your estate will be reduced by paying taxes that might have otherwise been avoided.

Animals: We all care about our furry friends and you may be concerned about what might happen to them when you pass. With a Will you can plan for a pet guardian, direct your estate trustee to use funds from the estate for temporary care of your pet and even assign specific assets to be sold or a sum of money be given to the person who permanently takes your pets to be used for their personal care[5].

Social Media: It may be beneficial to indicate what should happen to your social media accounts such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You may want to indicate that they all be removed, or that they be converted into a memorial page (depending on the platform). Regardless of what you may want to do with the accounts, it is unlikely that you would want them to just exist forever with no one able to access the information and manage the accounts[6].

Giving to non-immediate family members: When you die without a Will the Succession Law Reform Act governs who gets your assets. Friends and charities are not on this list, so you need a Will should you wish for these parties to receive certain assets or funds.

For young people, having a Will may not seem like a priority, however, there are many benefits to creating a Will that you may not have considered. After thinking about these various benefits it may be time to sit down with a lawyer and draft a Will, making sure to review it every few years and after any large life changes, such as getting married, having a child, and obtaining new significant assets.

 

[1] Today’s blog is written by a guest blogger, Fatima Husnain, Fasken LLP, Student-at-Law

[2] https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/estates/estates-FAQ.php

[3] http://www.lsuc.on.ca/For-Lawyers/Manage-Your-Practice/Practice-Area/Trusts-and-Estates-Law/Wills/How-to-Prepare-an-Application-for-a-Certificate-of-Appointment-of-Estate-Trustee-without-a-Will/

[4] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/where-theres-a-will-how-to-minimize-probate-fees/article589033/

[5] https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/suzana-popovicmontag/pets-will_b_3934832.html

[6] https://uniqueestatelaw.com/lawyer/2013/06/24/Beneficiary-Designations/8-Reasons-Young-People-Should-Write-a-Last-Will-and-Testament_bl8456.htm

About Maureen Berry
Maureen Berry is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken. Maureen’s practice is focused on wills, estate planning, domestic and international trusts, private corporation taxation, and executive compensation. Maureen also advises charities and non-profit organizations. Working with Canadian and international families, firms, corporations and charitable organizations, she provides advice on all aspects of private client matters. She is a leading expert in the fields of tax law and estate planning. As an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, she teaches Advanced Estate Planning. Maureen has previously taught corporate tax and international tax at the University of Toronto and Western University, along with the Bar Admission course for up-and-coming lawyers.

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