Monday, November 15, 2010

Have a Will?

There have been times in my life that have caused me to think about how my family would survive if something were to happen to me. I don't mean ending up in a hospital kind of something, I mean dying suddenly and unexpectedly kind of something.

Where would my family live? Who would they live with? Would my hubby be able to stay home to provide for their emotional and physical needs or would he have to continue working? What would happen to all of my worldly possesions ?

We have a two year old son with a medical condition and an eleven year old who lives with us part-time. Making sure that they are taken care of is my greatest concern. Obviously, my ex would get full custody of my daughter, but I want to make sure that she would still be able to spend time with my hubby and her little brother. Hubby would have sole custody of the little guy. But arranging to keep close contact between the two kids would be a little sticky. How could that be arranged in a will? What happens if both hubby and I were to die at the same time, like in an auto accident or something? What then?

I would want all of my assets to go to my hubby, with some being set aside for all three of my children. I'd want certain items that mean a great deal to me for sentimental reasons to go to certain people. The only way I know that this will be done is to have a very specifically worded will.

In my line of work, I have on occasion encountered families who have had a loved one die without a will. Trying to determine who has the 'right' to make the funeral arrangements can be difficult in these situations. Determining who is responsible to sign the funeral contract and for paying it can be difficult as well. Who do you return personal items to? Having named an executor in a will would have avoided all these problem questions.

Writing a will takes thought, time and money. But that doesn't mean it has to be difficult. To start, sit down with a pen and paper, and write out a holograph will until you can make final decisions about who would look after your children if you and your spouse both died. A holograph will is a completely handwritten document, outlining your wishes for dependants and property. It cannot be typed. It must be signed and dated, but not witnessed by anyone else. In Ontario, they are completely legal, and can be used if a formal will written by a lawyer cannot be found.

Talk to your spouse about what you both would want. Remember to talk to the people you would choose to be responsible for your children. Ask their permission to name them as guardians, to see if this a responsibilty that they would be willing to undertake. Talk to your family about your wishes so that there are no surprises. Leaving your entire estate to a charity may seem like a good thing to do, but your adult children may be able to contest the will, tying up the process for a long time.

If you own anything (house, car), have children, have any assets (including that $600 in your bank account), you should have a will if you want anyone to have it. Without one, you are giving the government permission to divide your assets for you, after they take their share, of course. I personally feel the government has had its hands in my pocket enough while I'm alive. I don't want them getting any more than is neccessary when I'm gone.

Have a will? Is it updated and reflective of your current situation?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, and definitely one that has made me think a bit.

    I keep most of my money (I don't have any assets like my car) in my RRSPs or my TFSA. My parents are the beneficiaries on one and my sister on the other. In the event that something happens to me those assets will be transfered to the appropriate person, but what about all of my other things?

    I suppose I should get a will that states which of my belongings goes to whom. I don't know much about living wills, but I think that would be important to have as well in the event that I was ever on life support.

    Lots to think about!