B.C. notaries are raising awareness that people under age 55 need to create a legal will.
A survey last year by Ipsos for the BC Notaries Association found that while 67 per cent of people aged 55 and older have a will in place, 62 per cent aged 35 to 54 and 77 per cent aged 18 to 34 do not have a will regardless of whether they own a home, have dependant children or other important considerations.
“A legal will ensures that those you love and care about will be provided for, in accordance with your wishes, around the distribution of your estate,” said Daniel Boisvert, a notary in Tsawwassen and president of BC Notaries Association.
“A will takes the guesswork and pressure off of family members or other loved ones and provides you with peace of mind that your estate will transition smoothly, whether it be assets or the custody of a child.”
B.C. notaries remind British Columbians of five key reasons people under the age of 55 should have a will:
• You have children under age 18
• You own a home
• You are separated, divorced or living in a common-law relationship
• You have pets
• You want peace of mind about your family’s future
The Ipsos survey found that only 34 per cent of parents with children age 18 and under have a will. If there is no will in place, or the will is not properly prepared, custody of any underage children may not be assigned as you intended.
Further, if the public guardian and trustee is brought in to administer the estate, the province may then decide on the future of dependent children and distribution of assets.
“We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for parents to have a will,” said Kristy Martin, a notary in Langford. “A legal will gives clear direction as to the guardianship of the children, rather than this important decision being made by the courts or government. This is particularly important if children are orphaned or if there is a complicated family situation, because it creates certainty for all families.”
Another concern may be the welfare of a pet and ensuring it will be looked after by a friend or family member if you are no longer able to do so.
Overall only 44 per cent of B.C. adults have a will in place and only 57 per cent of homeowners have a current will, according to the survey.
“When serving clients who are first-time home buyers we help them understand the purchasing process, as well as other types of documentation they may want to put in place such as a will, now that they own a significant asset,” said Tarja McLean, a notary in Kelowna. “This may be a particular concern if only one person’s name is on the title.”
For most people, creating a will doesn’t take as much time as they expect. A good way to start the process is to think about who you would want to care for your children, inherit your home and any other assets.
“Creating a will can typically be done in two short meetings,” said David Watts, a notary in Vancouver. “During the first meeting, we will discuss a general overview of your assets and your intentions for their distribution. The second meeting finalizes your plan and your paperwork.”