Why do you need a will? Here are only a few reasons – and, trust me, I could go on….and on….
1) If you die owning assets, and you do not have a will, someone will have to go to court to be appointed your administrator (like an executor, but for intestate people). Court = expense, stress, and time. Only your administrator (or, if you have a will, your executor) can deal with your assets once you are dead – financial institutions, brokerage houses and land titles offices tend to be quite sticky on this point!
2) The distribution of your estate under an intestacy may not be what you intended. For example, common law spouses have no entitlement to property under an intestacy unless they bring a support application. In addition, once an intestate estate has a value of greater than $200,000, children are entitled to part of the estate. If they are minors, their share will be managed by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and distributed to them when they turn 18 – which many parents consider to be quite a young age to have full control over substantial assets.
3) If you and your spouse die in a common accident, without having wills, the court will appoint a guardian for your minor children without any means of determining your intentions in that matter. Your will is the document which informs the court of your wishes re the guardianship of your minor children.
4) There are many opportunities for income and probate tax planning that are simply not available to you if you do not have a will.