Make-a-will week

March 31 to April 6, 2014, is Make-a-Will Week in British Columbia.

Geoff Severide, Partner at Gilchrist & Company in Penticton, says the document will save your loved ones a lot of grief.

“The main reason is that you don't want to leave your loved ones behind wondering what your intentions were and being stuck with a legislated will that gives your assets to people that weren’t necessarily the most important ones to be leaving your property to.

“You can also express your wishes regarding funeral arrangements and that sort of thing, so if you have strong feelings about that aspect your family will know.”

According to the Ministry of Justice a lot of British Columbians do not have wills.

In a 2014 report for BC Notaries, it was found that just 55 per cent of British Columbians have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date will.

A number fairly consistent with our recent Castanet poll on wills.

In the poll last week we asked people if they had a will or if they were were planning on getting one.

Of the 919 votes registered, 476 people or 52 per cent said they have a will.

339 or 37 per cent of voters said they plan on getting a will, and 104 voters or 11 per cent say they do not plan on getting a will.

If you die without a will then there is a legislated will that distributes your assets according to a formula that the government set out, but that formula may not be what you want to happen.

“Another thing is if you have a will you can appoint someone you trust and have confidence in them to be executor, to carry out your wishes, and look after your affairs on your death. Whereas if you die without a will then someone has to be appointed to do that job, and it may be someone that you wouldn't have chosen yourself,” adds Severide.

Severide says if you have children in a will you can appoint a guardian. You can name a person or couple to look after and take custody of your young children, should you suddenly die.

Castanet surveyed a number of lawyer offices and Notaries to find approximate rates to have a will created.

The cost of having a will drawn up by a professional ranges from $250 to over $1,000 depending on how may people are involved and the complexity of the will.

A single person getting a will from a lawyer will be looking at around $300-$500 and about $300 from a Notary.

A couple with children is looking at spending between $500 - $800 with a lawyer and approximately $400 - $600 with a Notary.

Both the notaries and lawyers Castanet spoke to, mentioned that the complexity of the will can change the costs quite drastically. Complex issues include blended families, and having more than one executor, or if multiple parts of your estate are going to multiple people. 

If you have a very simple and straightforward situation, will kits are also available online or at shops that carry stationary for those who want to 'do it yourself', they range from $19 - $30. 

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton



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