What Is A Will And Why Do You Need One?

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What is a Will and why do you need one?

A Will is a written document that sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. In Ontario the Succession Law Reform Act is the legislation that covers the formalities of a Will, among other things. Here are some further explanations.

1.Written document – in most cases a Will is typewritten in a standard format with required elements. To be valid a Will must have two Witnesses, who are not persons named in the Will. So if you name your sister as a beneficiary in your Will, your sister cannot be a Witness. If for some reason, this mistake is made, then the part of the Will that names your sister will be found to be void, while the rest of the Will may stand. In other words, the gift to your sister won’t stand. So to avoid any problems, always have two strangers to the Will to be the Witnesses. If you are preparing your Will through a lawyer, the Witnesses will be the lawyer and another person.

2. Holograph Wills – another category of Will is one that is handwritten. There may be a situation when you need to make a Will in a hurry and don’t have time to get to a lawyer. It is important to remember that this type of Will must be entirely in the testator’s own handwriting. You cannot use a form from the stationery store and then add your own comments. But you don’t need to have a Witness.

A holograph Will should only be used in an emergency. A document explaining exactly how your assets are to be distributed after your death is too important to make mistakes.

3. Assets- everything you own at on the day of your death. Some of your assets may not be included in your Will because they are 1) held in joint ownership or 2) already designated to be transferred to a specific beneficiary (for example, a life insurance policy or a RRSP).

Next time – what happens to your Assets if you don’t have a Will?

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