Why Getting a Will Made Cannot Wait

By Piyushi Dhir

Guest post, by Gaurav Dhir, editor at Help and Wellness

Being new immigrants to Canada, we have been constantly learning and discovering a new way of life. Our biggest source of information about a new lifestyle has been our friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

We were prepared for many new things in a new country. But one thing that surprised us was when people advised us to get a will made. By God’s grace, we are young and healthy. We are in a safe country and expect to have long and joyful years ahead of us. It really piqued my interest when different people, whose opinions we value, advised us to get our wills made. So I decided to investigate this wills business.

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

It seems morbid to think of your own death. But the truth is that at some point of time in the future, everyone has to pass on. The only predictable thing about life is that it will come to an end, someday.

With this realization, the first question I wanted answered was “What happens if I die without a will?” I started reading online and spoke to a lawyer too. I understood that depending on where you live, there are different laws. Reams can be (and have been) written about it. But in a nutshell, in Ontario, if you were to die without a will, the following will happen:

  • If you die “inestate” (without a will), Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act kicks in and defines how your worldly possessions (your estate) will be distributed.
  • The first $200,000 goes to your spouse. For any amount over $200,000, a third goes to your spouse and the rest is divided equally among the children.
  • If both spouses were to pass on (or if there is no spouse), everything is divided equally among the children.
  • If your children have not attained the age of majority (18 years in Ontario at the time of writing this article), their inheritance will be held in trust and released to them when they attain the age of majority.
  • If the children are minors, the court will appoint a guardian. Since their decision can take some time to come (a few weeks to a few months), the children will be in foster care till then.
  • Things are a little more complicated when you are not married but have a common-law partner. In Ontario, a common-law partner does not automatically have a right to the estate of the deceased. It has to be clearly mentioned in a will.

Implications of Not Having a Will

After understanding and digesting all this, my wife and I were uncomfortable on many fronts. Our tacit understanding was that if any one of us were to predecease the other, all our assets will automatically go to the surviving partner. We also did not like the fact that if both of us were to pass on, our child will inherit and be responsible for his finances at the tender age of 18.

We were even more uncomfortable with the courts deciding who the guardian will be. Our child being in foster care while the decision comes also did not sit well with us. So we figured that it is best to have a will. We can then clearly spell out, what we want done with our assets and who will take care of our child.

Why Getting a Will Made Cannot Wait

Why Getting a Will Made Cannot Wait

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Will Made?

Now that we realized we needed our wills made, next step, price shopping! After all, being new to the country, we wanted to make our dollars stretch as far as we possibly could. I asked my lawyer acquaintance, the process of getting a will made. I was told that we will need 2 wills – one for me and another for my wife. The process will take a few days and will cost us between 500 to 700 dollars.

All this sounded a little archaic to me. I suspected that there has to be an easier way of going about it. After all, we didn’t have millions in assets or dozens of beneficiaries to put in our wills. We just wanted simple wills that will leave all we owned to the other person in case one person dies and clearly define the guardianship of our son in case both of us passed away. In the age of the internet, there had to be an easier and less expensive way of getting a simple will made.

Where Can You Get Your Will Made?

I wasn’t wrong. I spoke to my friends and researched online. I found out that there are (largely) 3 methods of getting a will made. Each has its own pros and cons.

  1. Pick up freely available online will forms and fill it yourself

This is the least expensive way of getting your will made. Just look up a freely available online will form, fill in your details and voila! You have a will. But it is the most risky as well. There is no guarantee that these forms are vetted or correct. Also, they may not necessarily be according to the state or province that you are based in.

  1. Use an online will making service

Depending on the service you choose, you can pay as little as $40-$50. You just type out broad strokes of what you want in the will and your will is auto generated for you. The entire process takes less than an hour. This is the best option if you want a simple will made and we ended up going this route. The wills are reliable and made according to the laws of your province or state. You can even choose to archive and store the wills with them for safekeeping.

  1. Go to a traditional lawyer to get a will made

You take an appointment and go to a lawyer’s office and they will make the will for you. This is the most traditional option and the most expensive too. A standard will can cost you anywhere between $500 and $700.  The cost will go up rapidly if there are complications in your case or if you want any customization like trusts etc. So essentially, you pay $500 to $700 for filling up a lawyer approved form. You can do that with option 2 at a tenth of the cost!

We decided to go ahead and get our wills made through Legalwills.ca. We ended up spending under 70 dollars to get two wills made – one for myself and then a mirror-will for my wife. The process took us all of 45 minutes and it was really straightforward.

If you too need a will made, you can get the same done at the links below. You will do better than us because the links below give you a 10% discount on the services availed.

As of now, the law in Ontario requires physical wills and 2 witnesses who are not named in the will.  So, once we were done making the wills, we printed them and got them signed physically by 2 witnesses. Lastly, we made sure that the right people know about the existence of the wills and they are stored in a safe place, easily accessible in case of an emergency.

If you are taking care of elderly parents and they do not have a will, it will be beneficial to all concerned that they get one made. It is a simple process and it ensures that their last wishes are carried out. While we are discussing elderly parents, you may want to check out another article on what all you can do to effectively take care of elderly parents.

We feel a bit more relaxed to know that our last will and testament is made and the right people know about it. And we feel even better that it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg getting one made. We found Legalwills to be extremely easy to use and cost effective for making our wills. We hope you do too.

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About the Author

PIyushi Dhir is the author of the romantic novels, 'In Search of Love' (2014), 'I'm Yours, The Next Time' (2015) and 'Enmeshed Evermore' (2015). A voracious reader, a keen traveler and an ardent dog-lover, Piyushi currently resides in Ivory Coast, Africa. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.