Best time to draw up a Will?
We are often asked when the best time to draw up a Will is, or when you should update a previously made Will. A Will is a legally enforceable document which sets forth a person’s (aka testator’s) wishes regarding matters to be attended to after his/her passing.
Under the Wills Act in B.C., a testator may not create a Will until they are 19 years old (unless they are a minor and a member of the Canadian Forces on active service or a mariner at sea). Proposed legislation is looking to change this age restriction to 16 years old. However, for the meantime if you are 19 or older (and don’t have a Will) it is time for you to start considering a Will. Otherwise, you risk not having your wishes recorded or having effect upon your death.
Once your initial Will is created, it is advisable to review your Will whenever there has been a material change in your affairs, such as a birth, death, marriage or marital breakdown in your family, the death of a guardian or executor trustee, a change of substance in your assets (including gifts or advances received or given by you) or your liabilities, or a change in tax laws. In fact, you should review your Will periodically even if you are unaware of any changes in circumstances that may affect your Will.
Although all of the above life events are important triggers of Will review, changes in marital status has particular impacts on the validity of a Will. If you have been recently divorced, despite popular belief your Will is not void in its entirety; only the gifts made to your ex-spouse shall be void. However, even though the rest of your Will is still intact, the effect of the voiding of some gifts may mean your estate is not distributed as you intended. If you are recently married (and your Will did not contemplate the marriage) then your Will be void in its entirety. Although there is proposed legislation to change this aspect of the law (such that a subsequent marriage will not void a Will) this new legislation is not in effect as of yet. If this applies to you, you and your new spouse should consult a lawyer to determine whether new Wills should be prepared.
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637
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