A new online survey of 800 B.C. residents found that 66 per cent of respondent parents of children under the age of 18 don’t have a will.
For a family without a will if something happens to one or both parents, custody of the children and property distribution may not occur as the deceased intended. Furthermore, if the Public Guardian and Trustee is brought in to administer the estate, the province may then decide on the future of dependent children and assets.
“The costs of administering your estate may also be higher if a current and legal will does not exist,” said Tarja McLean, a Notary in Kelowna.
“One of the kindest things you can do for your family and loved ones is to have a will in place, so it’s one less thing they need to worry about after you’re gone.”
The survey was carried by Ipsos for BC Notaries during last month in lead to Make A Will Week in B.C., declared for April 8 to 14.
The survey also revealed that overall only 44 per cent of respondents had a will in place and only 57 per cent had a current will.
“We know that too many people pass without a will in place because Notaries help families navigate the bureaucracy and uncertainty created for those left behind,” said Rhoda Witherly, president of B.C. Notaries.
“Even for us, this finding that two-thirds of parents with dependent children don’t have a will is surprisingly high and a concern for those families.”
McLean said for parents to not have a will is often related to facing the reality of their demise at some point and facing difficult questions such as who will look after their children and distribution of their assets.
“It’s one of the hardest things to face up to but once you start talking about it and as you go through the process it gets a little easier to talk about,” McLean said.
She said for parents, they may face issues with their elderly relatives that require legal attention and tend to overlook potential legal concerns regarding their own children.
“The feeling sometimes is your kids are too young or you as parent are too young to worry about it, or you are just starting out in life and don’t have many assets to worry about. But it is never too early to do a will,” McLean said.
“Unfortunately it does happen, a horrific accident takes place and the parents are lost and it’s heartbreaking to see a family left behind without a plan in place for what happens next.”
Jennifer O’Donnell, a Penticton Notary, said a will can typically be done with a Notary in two short meetings.
“During the first meeting, we will discuss a general overview of your assets and your intentions for their distribution. The second meeting finalizes you plan and your paperwork,” O’Donnell said.
“A good way to start the process is to think about who you would want to care for your children, inherit your home and any other assets.”
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