A will is a legal document that states who should receive which of your assets after your death. It names the persons (Trustees/Personal Representatives) you want to manage the estate. It also allows you to name guardians for any dependent children and your wishes for their financial needs and upbringing.
A will must be in writing in Canada and comply with other requirements of the law in each jurisdiction. For example, in Alberta, a beneficiary in a will must not be one of the witnesses of the execution of the will by the will maker. Also, there must be 2 witnesses and both must be present together at the same time when witnessing the execution of the will.
It is a good idea to have a will as illness or accident could claim anybody at any time as scary as such thought may be. A will is the only way to control who gets what you have.
If you die without a will:
- your estate may not be divided as you would have wished;
- your estate may end up being more complicated and expensive for your family to handle;
- if there is no one to whom your estate can be left if you do not leave a will, your estate may end up going to the provincial government.
However, a badly prepared will could defeat the whole essence of making a will to provide for your loved ones and those you care for after you might have passed on and in fact lead to unnecessary and expensive litigations.