There is a common misconception, especially among those of us in our twenties, that estate planning and creating a will is only for those with substantial assets or in their golden years. This is not the case. Estate planning is about far more than the organization of your assets when the unthinkable happens. Creating a will as soon as you can after you turn 18 is a prudent idea for a long list of reasons.
Make your life easier
Simple wills are relatively inexpensive, so it’s a good idea to create a baseline will while your estate and financial affairs are simple. It is also the case that as your financial and family situation changes it is easier to alter an existing will than to start from scratch.
Consider your Pets
Despite being like family, your pet cannot be named as a beneficiary in your will. However, what you can do is specify who will be responsible for your pet and direct that the proceeds from the sale of any specific assets you own be devoted to the care of your surviving pet.
You may be richer than you think
While your bank account may suggest otherwise, you may come into money or have a claim to more money than you realize. An inheritance or family trust money with your name on it could form part of your estate given the timing of events. Provisions relating to the residue of your estate ensures than any unforeseen assets be directed where you wish.
Decision making power
As part of your estate planning, it is important to establish powers of attorney for property and personal care. Surely, you would like to decide who you would trust to manage your finances in the event that you could no longer do so. Establishing powers of attorney gives those people the legal capacity to act on your behalf when you need them.
Streamline the process
A simple will can keep your estate out of probate court and can ensure that your assets and any gifts you wish to make are directed to the intended recipients as expeditiously as possible.
Managing your social media and online presence and legacy
A will allows you to specify your desires for your online accounts and social media presence after you pass. An agreement with a friend to delete each other’s accounts or browser history, as the case may be, is not as good a surety as solidifying your wishes in a legal document like a will.
Directing any money or gifts
If there are sentimental gifts or certain assets that you wish to give to a particular person, a will ensures that this will be carried out. Specific bequeaths can be made in a will which will make certain that your treasures are distributed to the people you wish to have them.
There’s no need to wait until marriage
If you are soon to be married it is worth knowing that marriage no longer revokes an existing will in Ontario. What better thing to do for your future spouse than to organize your affairs.
I could go on. Basically, if you are over 18 and alive estate planning is a good idea no matter what your circumstances.
Derek Hambly is an articling student at Harrison Pensa. He has an undergraduate degree in integrated science with minors in economics and political science from McMaster University (where he was valedictorian) and a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Carlton University. He attended Western Law and has worked as a policy analyst for Health Canada. Connect with Derek on LinkedIn.