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What happens if you don't have a will

If we had to choose, most of us would opt for a trip to the dentist over contemplating our own death. But the implications of not having a will can transfer that discomfort directly to our loved ones.

Professionals who deal with wills and estates hear countless stories of families falling into conflict over the estates left by senior family members. While the distribution of assets can often be contentious, it can become downright chaotic if there is no written will.

A will outlines how you want your estate (property, money, vehicles, personal belongings, etc) to be distributed. It is a legally binding document if properly signed and witnessed.

Wills and Estates and the Courts

If you die without a will, it’s very difficult to ensure your estate will be distributed the way you would like.

Without a will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’. Your estate will be subject to the provincial intestate laws. Essentially, this means that the courts make the decisions about how your property is distributed.

Generally speaking, this means immediate family (spouse and children) are prioritized to receive the items in your estate. Common law relationships may not be recognized if they haven’t been officially registered as a domestic partnership. If there is no surviving parent, children under the age of 18 will be assigned to a guardian.

In addition, the whole process of dealing with the estate is slowed down and more expensive. Certain aspects of distributing the estate like accounting for all the property and paying debts are all much more complicated.

Having a will significantly reduces the cost, complexity and potential for family members to contest how an estate is handled. So it’s worth it to face the discomfort of thinking about this inevitable event now, and making a will that clearly outlines your wishes.

See this article for more related to wills and estates.