A Will Worth Making

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By Peter Dryden, Gift Planning Consultant

Like more than half of all Canadian adults, Roger[1] did not have a will[2]. As a child, he had been adopted into a wealthy family. Although he loved them deeply, he struggled to form a strong relationship with his siblings. They never became close. In adulthood, their connection faded even more, and they lost touch after their mother passed away. When their father also died, Roger and his siblings each inherited a significant fortune.

Roger was dismayed to discover his siblings squandered their shares of the inheritance. He felt this was shameful and did not honour their father’s hard work. One afternoon, as Roger was discussing the situation with a friend, he mentioned that he had not yet drafted a will of his own. He had never married, had no children, and had just never gotten around to it. His friend warned him that unless he put a will together, he might be shocked at how his estate would be managed.

What happens when you don't have a will

When a person dies without a will in place, their provincial government provides direction for the legal distribution of assets from their estate. Rules have been established per province[3], but these are often based on assumptions of familial bonds. This dictates that a person’s property be given to their family members. While that might work for most, there are situations like Roger’s where distribution to family members might not be a desired solution.

Since Roger was not married and did not have any children, if he died without a will, his estate would default to using the legislation set out in his province. A general guiding principle is, “If a person does not formally indicate how they want his or her property distributed upon death, it is presumed that the person wants it to go to family members.” Roger was disturbed to realize that the fortune he had received from his father would be given to his siblings, who had misspent what they had already inherited.

Not only was the matter of inheritance a concern to Roger, he also realized that not having a will prevented him from optimizing his estate’s tax efficiency. Even more alarming, he discovered that there would be absolutely no plan for donating anything from his estate to the charities that were near and dear to his heart. He made up his mind to do something about it and sought the guidance of Abundance Canada.

Choose a proactive approach

Like Roger, many people only create their will when a crisis or life event grabs their attention and motivates them to put a plan together. However, a proactive and enthusiastic approach to estate planning is far more rewarding.

At its core, estate planning is an act of stewardship over all that you have been blessed with. It can be a delightful experience to take the time to reflect and carefully consider who will be blessed by the assets you have accumulated over years of hard work.

Will and estate planning also provides an opportunity to share your values. As well as help determine what impact your wealth will have in the world. After all, the greatest financial gift many of us will ever make is through our estate.

Although focused on the future, estate planning is a good starting point to establish strategic giving today. With a carefully-thought out plan in place, you can give during your lifetime, while creating a legacy that is in-line with your values.

A donor-advised, charitable foundation like Abundance Canada can help you think strategically about giving, setting in motion a ripple effect of generosity that will continue to impact the world for many years to come.

To assist you with all the important decisions concerning your estate, you can download a free copy of our Will and Estate Planning Guide.

You may also wish to speak or meet with a Gift Planning Consultant in your area concerning your generosity and estate plan. Call 1.800.772.3257 to book an appointment today. All consultations are free, confidential and without any obligations.

Notes:

[1] Name and details have been modified to protect the privacy of the individual
[2] 51% according to a January 2018 Angus Reid Poll (http://angusreid.org/will-and-testament)
[3] Each province has its own rules for asset distribution in the event that there is no will. An Abundance Canada Gift Planning Consultant can provide you with direction on your local provincial legislation.

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