A province-wide poll conducted by Mustel Group for the Society of Notaries Public of B.C. found that only 51 per cent of British Columbians aged 18+ have a current and legal will.
The Mustel Group omnibus telephone poll was conducted in last November with 502 adults in B.C. It found that 15 per cent of people in the 18-to-34-age range, 49 per cent between 35 and 54, and 80 per cent of individuals 55+ have a will in place.
A properly executed will can create certainty of intentions for the distribution of assets and personal effects, the guardianship of minor children and pets, the responsibility for carrying out your wishes (an executor), and other vital details such as funeral arrangements.
"Dying without a will can create additional grief for heirs," says Wayne Braid, chief executive officer of the B.C. Notaries.
"When a person dies without a will, any one of the heirs may apply to the court to administer the estate. If the other heirs do not agree with this appointment - or if no one steps up - by law the office of the B.C. Public Guardian and Trustee must manage the estate and charge a fee for the work. Some people face years of financial expense and time to unravel a loved one's finances. To those left behind to handle the paperwork, a will is priceless."
A good way to start the process is to identify a legal professional in your community - a notary or a lawyer - that you trust and that can assist you to prepare a will to serve your needs.
"Most people are relieved after they make a will and are surprised at how easy the process is," says Braid. "Will planning and the related discussions among loved ones can open important channels of communication, bring people closer and create more certainty and peace of mind for all."
The Society of Notaries Public of B.C. represents more than 320 highly trained notary professionals. Most have locally owned and operated offices and all provide personal assistance to clients around the province.
Individuals, families, and businesses seek the services of B.C. notaries for a wide range of non-contentious legal matters, including residential and commercial real estate transfers, mortgage refinancings, wills and estate planning, powers of attorney and other important documents.