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Wills in Canada: What's important to know

No one likes to thing about his or her own demise, but that day is coming for everyone. With that in mind, some consideration should be given to what happens to assets upon an individual's death. Yet, about half the adult population in Canada die intestate – or without wills. If that should happen, family members would have the burden and emotional stress of trying to decipher who gets what – or worse yet, that job could fall to the government.

Those living in common law relationships may not receive anything from their partner's estate unless the partner left a will. In British Columbia, a legally married spouse of a deceased individual will get the first $65,000 of the estate. If there is anything remaining, it would be split between any children and the legal spouse.

Wills should also indicate who the executor(s) will be. Individuals should also have a power of attorney and a living will to stipulate their desires regarding health care such as a do not resuscitate directive. Wills and other estate planning documents should be kept in a safe place such as a safety deposit box. Copies should also be kept in the place of residence like in a locked box or a filing cabinet.

A lawyer in Canada with experience in wills and estates law could help clients draw up wills and other instruments that are specific and leave nothing for survivors to query. A lawyer could also offer advice as to what should absolutely be included in a will such as the naming of guardians for any minor children. A lawyer will also be helpful in updating the document as life situations change.

Source: canadianfamily.ca, "7 Things You Need to Know About Making a Will", Accessed on Nov. 24, 2017

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