[The following contents are from the website of the Society of Notaries Public of BC] The Province of British Columbia has declared April 9 to 15, 2017 “Make a Will Week” to encourage the many British Columbians who don’t have a current Will to prepare one, and to encourage families to discuss the topic and future planning.
New research shows a significant gap between the number of British Columbians who own a home and those with a legal Will in place, particularly among those under the age of 35.
A March 2017 omnibus telephone survey of 500 B.C. residents by Mustel Group showed that about half, or 48%, of B.C. adults have a Will, but a separate recent Mustel survey showed that 74% of adults own a home.
The discrepancy is even higher among those 18 to 34 years old, of whom 50% own a home but only 13% have a Will.
“This is a troubling situation when such a large number of people who own real estate don’t have a legal Will,” said Tammy Morin Nakashima, President of BC Notaries and Steveston Notary. “If someone shares ownership of a property or home it is especially important to review the structure of that agreement, since it could determine what happens to that person’s share of ownership after they die.”
If there is no Will in place, or the Will is not properly prepared, an estate may not be distributed as the deceased intended. Furthermore, if the Public Guardian and Trustee is brought in to administer the estate, the Province may then decide how assets will be divided.
The Mustel survey also found that 56% of respondents with families do not have a current Will in place.
“It is also essential that anyone with dependent children have a current Will,” said Morrie Baillie, a Victoria Notary. “The lack of a Will can leave dependent children vulnerable to wait in foster care while courts decide on a suitable guardian. Contrast that to the simplicity of a Will, which empowers you to nominate someone you trust to take immediate care of your minor children.”
The costs of administering the estate may also be higher if a legally enforceable Will does not exist. The kindest thing someone can do is ensure they have completed up-to-date estate planning, so that loved ones don’t need to worry about it after they’re gone.
Creating a Will takes less time than most people think and can usually be completed in one or two short meetings. A good way to start the process is to identify a legal professional in your community, like a Notary, who can assist you in preparing a proper and legal Will.
“Most people find the process leads to important discussions and decisions, and brings families closer as there is more certainty and peace of mind for everyone,” said Susan Tong, a Vancouver Notary. “It also provides the Will-maker with assurances that their assets will be distributed to family, friends and charitable organizations according to their wishes.”
The Society of Notaries Public of BC represents more than 365 highly-trained Notary professionals. Most Notaries have locally owned and operated offices and all provide personal assistance to clients around the province. Individuals, families and businesses seek the services of BC Notaries for a wide range of non-contentious legal matters, including residential and commercial real estate transfers, mortgage refinancing, Wills and advanced healthcare planning, powers of attorney, and other important documents.