The Importance of Updating Your Will and Estate Plan
After more than a year of uncertainty and daily reminders of our mortality during the pandemic, a significant portion of the population understand the value of having a Will and estate plan. However, there are still a number of people who don’t understand why having an updated Will & estate plan is crucial for protecting them and their loved ones.
The Wills & Estates Planning lawyers at CBM Lawyers strongly advise on having a well-organized and regularly updated Will to ensure your loved ones are taken care of and that you have a plan in place. Life is unpredictable, therefore, it is important to take time and prepare or update your Will to ensure your wishes are outlined clearly, and that your overall estate plan and your Will work coherently together. Not all assets are controlled by the terms in a Will. Therefore, it is important to obtain professional advice to ensure that the Will and estate plan you want is what you have put into place.
Parenting & guardianship risks
Parents with minor children should have a valid and current Will. Your children are the most important people in your life, and having a well-written Will helps to ensure their protection in the event of your death. If your children are under 19, naming appropriate guardians for them is a very important consideration in your Will. If there is a change in your guardian’s relationship, or if your guardian moves to a new location, it is important to reconsider your Will and update it if appropriate. Otherwise your children may end up living with someone you may not have a close relationship with, or having to move away from their friends, schools and activities at a time when they need stability the most.
When there is no Will at all, or a ‘do-it-yourself’ Will, there is a risk that your children will not be placed with the guardian you would have hoped for. There is also the possibility that they will be placed in foster care, while they wait for a court application to determine who will be the guardian, or permanently if there is no suitable guardian. Learn more about the importance of creating a Will as a parent here.
Complications and extensive expenses
Having a Will that includes the necessary provisions so your executor can administer your estate makes the process of distributing your assets following death much simpler and efficient. When a Will is out of date, has been poorly written, or there is no Will at all, it causes unnecessary stress, expense and time to enable the executor or your loved ones to deal with your estate.
This can play out in one or more of the following ways:
- Risk of assets not being distributed based on your wishes: Assets may go to other family members or people you did not have any intention of including as a beneficiary of your estate. Your loved ones may not receive anything at all, and when there is no Will (an intestacy), the law sets out how your assets are to be divided among your family, and in what amount. If you have no family members within the intestacy provisions of the law, then your assets will go to the government.
- Costly legal battles: To prove they are the rightful beneficiaries of your assets, your family could be involved in costly legal battles – which could have been avoided had there been an updated Will.
- Family rifts through the litigation process: the loss of a loved one can cause pain and tensions among family members. Often family rifts occur when someone feels wrongly excluded from a Will and this can be amplified if litigation is required in order to determine the distribution of the estate.
Life changes – Will and Estate Plan
Nothing in life is guaranteed except that it is always changing. You may buy your first house, start a business, get married, have children, get divorced, remarry, have grandchildren, lose someone significant, receive an inheritance, or retire. Family dynamics can change, for better or for worse. Each of these changes can influence whether your Will and estate plan adequately reflects your wishes and whether you need to update them.
Another important change that can occur is with your assets themselves. Your estate may increase or decrease in value which can affect how you’d like to distribute it among your loved ones and additional protections you may want to include.
As professional estate planners, the team at CBM Lawyers are aware of these risks and the impact of these changes. They strive to ensure that clients have the information and knowledge they need to make well-informed decisions for their Wills and estate plans, and that the Will is properly drafted and customized to ensure their wishes are met.
If you need assistance in creating or updating your Will, CBM Lawyers can support you through every step of the process and provide you with the information you require. They are available to answer any questions you may have or help you work through the estate planning process. Don’t wait on planning your estate – ensure your family is well taken care of and your plan is in place now.
CBM Lawyers is a community law firm located in the Fraser Valley. At each of their four locations, their Wills & Estates Team has extensive experience in setting their clients up for the best outcomes and protecting them through the process. Reach out to CBM Lawyers today for assistance in creating your Will & Estate plan.