A Will covers the distribution of your estate after you die. Your estate is made up of things you own or have an interest in. A Will can help ensure that your estate is divided the way you intended.
A Will only comes into effect upon your death.
A Will may be changed as often as you want during your lifetime to reflect changes in your personal life, provided that you continue to be of sound mind. A Will can also be used as part of an overall estate plan to address matters concerning capital gains taxes, transferring farm property or business shares, roll-overs and life interests.
The law regarding Wills is described here in general terms. This is not meant to be a legal authority on the subject. It is not a self-help kit on making a Will. For specific legal advice you should consult a lawyer and may also require advice from other professionals, such as an accountant or other estate planner.
A Will gives you the opportunity to decide who inherits things you own. Without a Will the law will determine this. It also allows you to name an Executor to handle your estate. Otherwise someone would need to apply to court to be able to do this.
There are certain legal requirements that must be met to create a valid Will. Some of these concern signing and witnessing, while others are designed to ensure that the Will truly reflects the wishes of the person who created it.
Dependants and spouses can make a claim on your estate in some circumstances. This can be done whether you have a Will or not and can change what is left to divide under the Will.
There are things that are important to know if you have children under 18 at the time you are creating your Will. Children under 18 cannot legally manage their own money so someone has to do this for them. Children under 18 also need someone to look after them. These are both things that you can address in your Will.
Once you have a made your Will it can be easy to think that you do not have to doing anything else with it. Wills however need to kept safe and reviewed regularly. Certain life events can even make your Will or parts of it invalid.
The law sets out who will receive your property after your death if you do not have a Will. This means that you do not get to choose who will get what. It also means you cannot do some of the things you can with a Will such as appoint someone to look after your estate or someone to take care of your minor children.