So what are the consequences of not having a Will?
The first consequence is that you don’t get to pick who administers your estate. The administrator of your estate is the person who handles all the matter to wind up your estate, including: selling property, paying outstanding bills including funeral expenses and taxes and ultimately distributing the estate.
Without a Will, the court will have to appoint an “administrator” of your estate. This may end up being someone you don’t want or don’t like. It can even mean a government organization by the name of the Public Guardian and Trustee, at a substantial cost, can also administer your estate.
In addition to this, if you don’t decide under a Will who to leave your assets to, your estate is distributed under a regimen determined by the Government under the Wills, Estate and Succession Act.
This distribution regime is as follows:
Spouse with no Children: Estate passes to spouse
Spouse and Children (and the children are your spouse’s children too): Spouse gets the first $300,000 value of your estate. Then ½ of the balance of your estate goes to your spouse. The other ½ is equally divided among your children.
Spouse and Children (and the children are not your spouse’s children): Spouse gets the first $150,000 value of your estate Then ½ of the balance of your estate goes to your spouse. The other ½ is equally divided among your children.
No Spouse but Children: Divided equally between your children.
No Spouse, no Children: Estate goes to your parents. If you have no parents living, it is divided equally between your brothers and sisters.
As can be seen, there is still a system in place for people who die without a Will. However, not having a Will eliminates your choice of who will manage your affairs after you pass and who you leave your assets to. The costs to your estate can also be substantial. So what’s my point? Just get a Will!
~ Mark Norton