Why Do A Will?

Many people do not give much, if any, thought to who will deal with their remains when they die, let alone what will become of their assets and affairs.  You will often hear people say that it makes them feel “uncomfortable” to think about, let alone plan for, their death.

If you have not made provisions (i.e. a Will), what happens?  



If you die without a Will, you are said to have died intestate. For many, a family member will come forward and handle funeral and other arrangements.

But you may have a house, a car, or bank accounts. Perhaps you also have a family cottage or a business, a stock portfolio or some other assets or investments.

If these things are not held jointly with right of survivorship, such that they pass to the survivor automatically, then it may be necessary for someone to apply to a court to be appointed as the legal representative for your estate.

This person is authorized by the court to deal with all of your assets and affairs including obtaining access to your bank account, safety deposit box if any, selling your house,  paying your debts,  etc. 


Succession Law Reform Act

In Ontario, the Succession Law Reform Act sets out the procedure for dealing with the affairs of people who have died without a Will,  including specifying who is entitled to receive the deceased’s assets.

Under the Act, if you are married and die intestate, your spouse will be entitled to whatever you have to a total of $200,000.00. If you have more than $200,000.00 in assets, and have children, your children will share in the excess above the first $200,000.00, together with your spouse.

If you do not have a spouse, or children, then the Act provides that other blood relatives, such as parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, etc., will be granted shares in your estate. 




A Will allows you to do many things,  including:

  • Suggest what you wish to have done with you remains (cremation, burial, a certain type of service or gathering, donate organs to science, etc.);
  • Appoint the person or persons that you feel would be best qualified to manage your estate, and would be best able to follow the instructions that you have set out in your will (an Estate Trustee, or Executor);
  • Make certain that whatever you leave behind goes exactly where you want it to,  rather than as the government has specified;
  • Recommend someone to care for your underage children, should you die prematurely (a Guardian);
  • Appoint someone to manage your assets until such time as your children, or other young beneficiaries, are responsible enough to do so for themselves (a Trustee);
  • Protect what you leave to a married child, or other beneficiary, from being subject to division / sharing with their spouse if they subsequently separate / divorce (a Family Law Act Clause);
  • Even tell someone why they were left out of your will (i.e. disinherited).

In short, it allows you to take control, to plan, to be prepared. This, in turn, generally makes it easier for your survivors. They have a roadmap.  They know who is in charge, who is to get what, when it will happen, and if you choose, they will also know why.



If you have a Will, take it out, look at it, and see not only if it does what you want, but if it is clear and easy to follow.

In addition, make a list of what you have, and where it is (bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, RSP’s, life insurance policies, investments, etc.) so that things can be readily located, and dealt with you after you are gone.

If your Will does not already set out who gets what personal possessions, try to do a list. Your Executor will certainly thank you when it comes time to decide who gets what, especially the higher profile items such as a car, china or silverware, jewelry, any works of art that you own, collections, family heirlooms, etc.

For those who do not have a Will, ask yourself one simple question: “Do you usually agree with what the government says is best for you and your family?”.  If not, call a lawyer and make an appointment to discuss making a Will !

Can you “do it yourself”? You can. But bear in mind that, if you make a mistake, chances are it won’t come to light until the only person who can fix it – you – is dead.  Consult a professional, a Lawyer who practices in the area of Wills and Estates Law. Someone who is very familiar with the ins and outs of Wills and Estates and can best advise you how to tailor a Will to your special circumstances.

I have been assisting people with the preparation of their Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills, as well as acting in the other areas shown on the enclosed price list, for over twenty-six years.  I would be pleased to meet with you at my office, or if you are unable to get out, in your home.