Whether you are a couple, single, with or without children, writing a will is a must, no matter how old you are. This official document is what will make it possible for your loved ones to know your last wishes, while providing an opportunity to give clear instructions on how to settle your estate. Here is everything you need to know about a will and why it is important to write one without further delay.
What does a will contain?
All too often, wills are associated only with the division of property: house, car and other valuables. This official document will guide your loved ones through the settlement of your estate by reducing the risk of disputes, while making their lives easier. First, with a will, you can appoint a liquidator—the person who will be responsible for settling your estate. You may also appoint a replacement, in the event that the person chosen is not able to settle the estate. You could also determine how you want to compensate the liquidator. If you have one or more children under the legal age, a will is an opportunity to appoint a legal guardian, who will take care of his or her education in the event of the parents' death. In addition, you may decide to include your instructions for organizing your funeral. However, note that in most cases, a will is opened only after the funeral, which is why it is important to make your funeral pre-arrangements with a funeral complex.
What are the types of wills?
There are three types of wills recognized in Quebec. First of all, the holograph (handwritten) will is the easiest to make and costs nothing. To be valid, it must comply with two conditions: It must be handwritten and must bear your signature. This type of will does not require any witnesses and can be written on a simple sheet of paper. It will not cost you anything to do so, but you should be aware that it will have to be validated after your death, at the estate’s expense. It could then take up to 3 months to validate it, during which time all the deceased's accounts will be frozen. In addition, it can be risky, as it may be lost, damaged or destroyed.
The second type of will is the will made in the presence of witnesses. It may be written by hand or typed up on a computer and must be signed by both you and two witnesses who will confirm that the will is indeed signed by you. Again, this will is free of charge, but is subject to the risk of being lost, destroyed or damaged. However, if you make a will that is signed in the presence of a notary (you will have to pay the notary's fees in this case), you could ask the notary to register your will in the Register of wills of the Barreau du Québec, making it easier for your loved ones to find it. After your death, this type of will also needs to be validated, which entails certain costs for your heirs.
And lastly, the notarial will is the most costly of the three options, but the most secure. It is the notary who will draft it and enter it in the Register of testamentary dispositions of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. Thanks to the notary's expertise, you can be sure that all the conditions of validity imposed by the law will be met. In addition, as it is certified, your heirs will not need to have it validated.
What are the reasons for making a will?
There are many reasons why you might want to make a will. First of all, this document will ensure that your belongings and money are distributed according to your wishes, so you can leave this world with peace of mind. A well-written will also avoids many complications and disputes between your loved ones in the future, when it comes time to divide your assets. In the case of a common-law couple without a will, it is the law that will apply and many people are unaware that the surviving common-law spouse will not inherit the other spouse's property.
If you have children under the legal age, a will gives you the opportunity to appoint a guardian who is suitable to you. Otherwise, it will be the court that will do so. A will could also prevent your children from spending their inheritance too quickly. To do this, you could choose to divide the amount into different percentages, paid at different times in their lives.
In short, it is important to turn your attention to writing a will, regardless of age and family situation. Also write down your funeral pre-arrangements, so that you can give clear instructions on the type of funeral you want to have. To do so, contact the Aeterna Funeral Complex for advice from our team.