A Will is a legal document that tells your family and friends what you want them to do with your estate. It speaks for you after you have died.
Your “estate” includes any money, real property or other assets that you own in your sole name. It does not generally include assets you own in joint tenancy with another person (such as your home), or assets which have a designated beneficiary on them (such as life insurance, RRSPs, RRIFs or some pensions).
In your Will, you appoint someone (an executor) to follow your instructions and distribute your estate the way you want. If you have minor children, you should appoint guardians for your children in order to minimize or prevent government intervention in guardianship.
In BC, you have some important legal obligations to certain family members. We can explain what these obligations are.
If you have assets in another province or country, you might need a Will for that jurisdiction as well.
If you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed according to BC’s intestacy laws. These laws might not give you the exact result you want, so it is important to find out how your estate would be distributed under them.
For example, if your spouse is younger than you are, and you die in the same car accident, your estates could be given to your spouse’s parents, with nothing going to your family, if you don’t have any children. Gifts to friends or charities do not exist under our current intestacy rules.