According to a recent survey, over 50% of Canadian adults, including many in Alberta, have not taken the trouble to do estate planning. The survey also addressed why the individuals who don’t have wills have not made the effort to have them. Almost 30% of those without signed wills felt they could not afford to have wills drafted, or they had no idea how to go about establishing a will.
Some Albertans might not understand why signing a will is so important. The truth is that anyone who dies without a will has no control over what happens with his or her assets or belongings. That person cannot name heirs or choose a trusted person to settle the estate. If there are young children left behind, the government will decide guardianship issues, and the heirs would be designated by the applicable laws of intestacy.
Dying without a will means that the estate will be treated as intestate, meaning that the Intestate Succession Act will take over the estate and govern the probate proceedings. Along with causing unnecessary expenses, situations are often created that lead to family disputes. Costly legal battles can be avoided by drafting and signing a proper will.
Of course, there are legal requirements for a will to be valid. The sensible thing might be to consult with an experienced lawyer who can answer questions and explain the legal requirements. Legal counsel can also explain the pros and cons of having wills and other estate planning documents such as powers of attorney and personal directives in place.