7 reasons to review and update your will this year
Contributed by Glenn Stewardson, Financial Planning Advisor, Assante Capital Management Ltd.
Your will should not be a set-it-and-forget-it document. It requires regular review to reflect your current needs and any life changes that may affect your end-of-life wishes. If you haven’t reviewed your will in a few years, here are seven reasons to make it a priority.
You decide who will inherit. If you die without a valid will, the provincial government has a formula under the intestate rules used to divide your estate. This likely will not be how you would choose to distribute your assets and may not consider all your family members.
You decide who will be in charge to wind up your affairs. The executor is an important role and is critical for your estate intentions to be completed. Choose well the person or people who will complete your final taxes and estate distribution. If you do not have a will, then a court application will be necessary, increasing the cost and frustration for your family.
Minimize taxes on your estate. Tax planning and clear instructions can reduce the overall loss of assets to taxes. This will increase the assets transferred to family and community causes that you care to help. An estate with no will cannot take advantage of the same kind of tax planning.
Dealing with digital assets. A big new issue is non-monetary assets in the digital world. An example would be credit card points and digital credits that need to be recognized in the will for gifting. Without a will, these may not be acknowledged or noted for distribution.
Giving back to your community and passing down your values. The will can list specific gifts to organizations you support now or wish to support with your estate. The intentions need to be in the will to allow for tax-efficient gifts.
Reducing administration time. Having an up-to-date valid will allows you to avoid probate court application, depending on the assets and what is in the estate. A well-drafted will can reduce the administration for your loved ones. Without a will, those left behind are left to guess with little guidance as to your wishes.
Circumstances change over time. Your needs and ideas change as you age. Your will needs to reflect your current intentions and should be reviewed every 5 years to see if an update is needed. For more information, reach out to a qualified financial professional or lawyer to review your current will. A professional will recommend changes or ideas for your estate plan that you may not have considered.