Preparing A Will In The Midst Of A Pandemic
We all know death is inevitable, and sadly, we only have a certain amount of time in this world. Considering recent events on the topic of COVID-19, it is important to start thinking about what would happen to your loved ones, as well as your property, should something happen to you unexpectedly. Over 10,000 people have died globally, in a matter of weeks, both young and old.
This is why it is important to create what is known as a Will (sometimes also called “last Will and testament”), a document that basically states your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate (which is a term used to describe the assets and liabilities left by a person after death).
Although this is not a topic we usually think of, creating a Will is one of the most important responsibilities of every adult, and it should not be put off until a distant day in the future. It should be done as soon as possible to ensure that your family, relatives, or even friends are able to receive what you believed should be passed on to them.
Preparing a Will:
Preparing a Will is not difficult, but differs from country to country, and province to province. For the purpose of this blog, we will be sharing the procedure of a Will in the province of Ontario.
In order for a Will to be valid, it must have the following characteristics
- It must be in writing as a physical copy.
- You must be over the age of majority in your province and of sound mind
- You should make a statement that revokes all prior Wills (This helps in canceling any Wills you wrote in the past, so that you will not have conflicting Wills).
- Name your executor (This is the person who will carry out your wishes).
- Include a list of your belongings and who will receive it.
- Include what is known as “residue clause.” (This is a statement near the end of the Will that names a person as the beneficiary of anything not listed in your Will or left over after all debts have been paid and all other gifts distributed).
- You must have at least two witnesses and they must sign to confirm they have witnessed your signature. (It would be for the best to have witnesses that don’t benefit from your Will)
- You must add your signature to your Will.
It is recommended to work with a lawyer or with a notary when creating your Will, as breaking any rules, small or large, may cause your Will to be invalid and your instructions to not be followed.
How Will Your Belongings be Distributed Without a Will?
You may be wondering what would happen in the situation that you decide to not make a Will or if your Will turns out to be invalid. Just like previously mentioned, this depends on the rules that your country and providence/state has.
In case of Ontario the following happens:
When a person dies without a valid Will, called "intestate", Ontario's Succession Law Reform Act sets out how the estate is distributed and they would follow the following process:
1. If you have a spouse, but no children:
Your spouse inherits everything. This only applies to legally married spouses, since common-law spouses do not automatically receive anything if you die without a Will.
2. If you have a spouse and children:
Your spouse first takes the first $200,000 (called the “preferential share”) worth of assets. Anything left over is called the residue. If anything is left over, it is then divided between your spouse and your children as follows: If there is only one child, your spouse and child each receive half of the residue of your estate; if there is more than one child, your spouse receives one-third of the residue and the children share the remainder equally.
3. If you have children, but no spouse:
The children each inherit an equal portion of your estate. If any of them have died, that child’s descendants (i.e. the deceased person’s grandchildren) will then inherit their share.
4. If you have no spouse and no children:
Your parents inherit everything.
5. If you have no spouse, no children, and no parents:
Your brothers and sisters (or their children if any brothers and sisters have died) divide your possessions.
6. If you also have no brothers and sisters:
Your nieces and nephews each inherit an equal portion of your estate.
7. If you have no nieces and nephews:
All other next of kin inherit an equal portion of your estate.
Should any of these conditions not apply due to the deceased not having any living next of kin, then everything will be given to the Ontario government.
If you have any further questions regarding this and/or would like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us now at 1-866-LOFRANCO. Our experienced lawyers at Lofranco Corriero firm will be ready to assist you and help you with any doubt that you may have.