During the 100th Post Contest, Ricardm suggested a topic of wills. A will can be a tricky thing in regards to its importance shifts around on you depending on your situation. Let’s review a few different situations.
Situation #1 – Single and No Kids
Here a will is not as important for a lot of people since they have no dependents, yet it still can be useful. In this case it can be used to direct your estate to someone who may need it more than your parents (whom will typically get everything if you die without a will) such as a sibling. If you have no living relatives the government will take over your estate.
Situation #2 – Married and No Kids
In this case if you die without a will the spouse will still get everything, but in the event both of you die you will have no say on where the estate goes. Instead it follows the order in which you died. For example, if you die in a car accident and then your spouse dies later at the hospital the estate would go to your spouses parents. Your parents would get nothing. So a will in this case starts to become important.
Situation #3 – Married with Kid(s)
Once you hit this stage it is VERY important to have a will. Otherwise your kids could get part of your estate even when your wife is still alive [depending on your province your wife could get as little as the first $40,000 (in AB) up to the first $200,000 (in ON) before spliting the rest with the kid(s) – see here]. Also you have to determine who will become guardians of your kid(s).
In all of the above cases if you don’t have a will the government will appoint someone to divide up your estate and charge the estate for the service. So in the interest of keeping the government out of your dead pocket you will want a short will.
Depending on your province you might be able to use a holographic will to explain your wishes (see here for where this works). A holographic will is written entirely in your handwriting and with your signature and date. It works well to provide a basic will in Situations #1 and 2 above, yet when you have kids you will likely want to see a lawyer about preparing a formal will.
That is a brief overview of wills, obviously you should do your own research by your province to determine what works for you, but in any case a will is generally a good idea to speed things along once your dead and prevent the government from taking more of your money. Good old death and taxes right?