No Dependents nor Large Assets? Reasons why you still need a Will
Many people who don’t have children, who rent their home, don’t have a car or any other large assets (large being subjective, of course), sometimes assume that they have no need for a Will. They argue that with no large assets, nor dependents, a Will is unnecessary. This assumption is incorrect, for the following reasons:
1. Future You May Thank You (If They Were Still Mentally Capable Of Doing So)
Even if you have few assets now, that might change in the future. You may receive an inheritance or other large gift. Many clients claim that if that ever happens, then they will simply make a Will then. However, you might not be mentally capable of making a Will at that time. You can still receive a gift or inheritance even if you have dementia or have otherwise lost your mental capacity; but if your mental capacity is gone, so is your chance to make a Will. Wills never expire, so you should make one now, in case you don't have the opportunity to make one later in life.
2. Where There Is No Will, There Is No Way… To Access Your Funds
When you pass away, a loved one will go to the bank or financial institution to report your death and request to empty your accounts. However, with no Will appointing someone to act as your executor, the bank will have no direction from you to release the funds to anyone. Therefore, your loved one's first step is applying to court to become your executor. By contrast, if you had a Will, your appointed executor could speak to the bank and very likely (given your small estate) access the funds without going to court for a court order (called a "Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee Without A Will" but often referred to as "probate"). Ultimately, the process after death will likely be more cost-effective, timely, and less stressful for your grieving loved ones who are trying to pay for your funeral, terminal income taxes etc.
3. Dependents who are Feathered, Furry, and Finned
While you might not have any human mouths to feed, you might have pets that are dependent on you. In your Will you can indicate who should care for your pets when you are gone (whether it be an individual or organization). Additionally, you can provide a cash gift to the recipient of your pet(s) to pay for the pet's future care.
4. Deciding Who Should Receive Your Life Savings
Even if you have limited assets, you will likely have acquired some amount of personal property and funds throughout your lifetime. Do you really want to roll the dice on where your life savings ends up? If you have no Will outlining beneficiaries at your death, then your estate is administered in accordance with the Succession Law Reform Act. This legislation outlines who has a legal right to apply to become your executor and who your beneficiary/ beneficiaries will be.
Without a Will, your best friend or common law spouse might receive nothing, since they aren't in your bloodline. Similarly, your children might be disinherited as everything might flow solely to your spouse (perhaps from a second or third marriage). Conversely, a Will permits you to give monetary or personal property gifts to each person that you actually want to enjoy the benefits of your life's savings.
5. Leave A Legacy To A Charity or Church
In a Will, you can provide a gift to a charitable institution, either by gifting a fixed dollar amount (i.e. exactly $1,000) or a share in the balance of your estate. In addition to providing for your favorite church or charity, your estate can take advantage of the charitable tax credits.
This is also a great choice for anyone who has no next-of-kin. If you are the last of your bloodline, then without a Will, your wealth will likely end up in the Bank of Canada. With a Will, you can instead gift your wealth to any church(s) and/ charity(ies) that you desire. Alternatively, you can even set up a scholarship in your name at your favorite educational institution.
This list is not exhaustive. There are many reasons for having a Will, even if you have a small amount of assets, are not married, and don’t have kids. Without a Will, you are leaving your loved-ones with a mess to clean up, which could be straightforward, but is more often than not more complicated than you think. The best gift you can leave your loved-ones is an organized estate plan, which includes a Will.