When you’re married, life becomes more than just about you and your wishes. Your decisions also impact your spouse, children, and shared assets. One such critical decision is drafting a will. Under British Columbia law, having a valid will is recommended and a practical way of ensuring your loved ones are cared for after your demise. Here are ten reasons why every married couple needs a will:
Reason 1: Control Over Property Distribution
A will outlines how you want your estate divided after your death. Without a will, British Columbia’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) will decide the distribution of your assets, which may not align with your wishes1.
Reason 2: Appointment of Executor
By creating a will, you can appoint an executor, a trusted individual who will handle your estate matters after your death. Without a will, the court will appoint an administrator, who may not be someone you would have chosen2.
Reason 3: Guardianship of Minor Children
If you have children under 19 (the age of majority in British Columbia), a will allows you to name their legal guardian if both parents pass away3. Without this designation, the courts will decide, potentially causing unnecessary stress and conflict within the family.
Reason 4: Speed Up the Probate Process
Having a will generally speeds up the probate process. A clearly articulated will, free of discrepancies, reduces potential delays, legal complications, and stress for your loved ones4.
Reason 5: Minimize Family Conflict
A will can prevent disputes over asset distribution among family members. A clear, professionally drafted will leaves no room for speculation, ensuring your final wishes are respected5.
Reason 6: Charitable Contributions
If you wish to leave a legacy through charitable donations, a will enables you to designate a portion of your estate to charities that are important to you6.
Reason 7: Addressing Debts and Taxes
A will allows you to outline the payment of outstanding debts and taxes, reducing the financial burden on your loved ones after your death.
Reason 8: Planning for Blended Families
In blended families, estate division can be complex. A will allows you to specify asset distribution, ensuring all your loved ones are cared for as per your wishes7.
Reason 9: Updating Will after Major Life Changes
Marriage, divorce, births, and deaths are significant life events that should prompt a revision of your will, as dictated by WESA8.
Reason 10: Peace of Mind
Most importantly, a well-prepared will provides peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes.
Role of a Notary Public in Drafting a Will
A Notary Public plays a crucial role in drafting a will, providing professional guidance and ensuring your will complies with British Columbia law.
Married couples, indeed all adults, should have a will. It gives you control over your estate, protects your loved ones, and provides you with peace of mind.
Ready to draft your will? Contact us at 604-824-5500 or email@example.com.
- What happens if I die without a will in BC? Without a will, BC’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act determines how your estate will be divided1.
- At what age should I make a will? You can create a will as soon as you turn 16 in British Columbia9.
- Can I write my own will, or do I need a notary? While you can technically write your own will, it’s recommended to consult a Notary Public to ensure your will complies with BC law10.
- Can my spouse and I make a joint will? Yes, joint wills are allowed in BC, but they can be complex and require legal guidance11.
- What is a living will? A living will, or an advance directive, outlines your wishes regarding medical treatment if you’re unable to communicate12. Alternatively, you may consider making a representation agreement.
- How often should I update my will? It’s recommended to review and update your will after any significant life event or change in your financial situation8.
Good To Know
- Holograph Wills: These are wills entirely handwritten and signed by the testator (the person making the will). They are not legally valid in BC13.
- Marriage no longer revokes a Will: Prior to 2013 in BC, marriage automatically revoked a will unless the will states that it was made in contemplation of the marriage. This is no longer the case, and getting married does not automatically revoke a will
- WESA: The Wills, Estates and Succession Act is the primary law governing wills and estates in BC1.
- Digital Assets: Consider including digital assets (like social media accounts, online banking, and virtual currencies) in your will.
- Using a legal professional: Having a legal professional such as a BC Notary Public prepare your will ensures a higher degree of validity and is less likely to be contested.
- Alternatives to Wills: Joint ownership and beneficiary designations are alternatives to wills but come with their own complications and should be used carefully.