Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | September 24, 2011

Why do You Not Have a Will ?

A recent study by BMO suggests that most of Baby Boomers have wills in place but that these wills have not been updated in many years.

Despite this awareness that a will needs to be in place, there seems to be a disconnect between awareness and the fact that a will needs to be current to reflect estate holdings as they are presently. 

“Most Canadian Boomers (aged 45+ with investable assets, including real estate, of over $500,000) have their act together when it comes to estate planning, with the overwhelming majority (85 per cent) having a will in place.”

“However, despite the existence of basic estate plans, the study also found that almost half of Canadians over 45 have not re-visited or updated their wills in 10 years, potentially leaving their original legacy goals in a precarious state.”

“While it’s very encouraging to see that a solid number of Canadian Boomers have a will in place, they should not underestimate the importance of updating their will on a regular basis,” said Sara Plant, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Trust Company. “Over time, an individual’s circumstances can shift, and they may encounter changes to wealth, marital status or the birth or death of a loved one. These changes can impact the estate and can result in an outcome that differs significantly from the deceased’s original wishes.”

So what is behind these Boomers deciding to get a will? According to the survey, 36% of respondents indicated that they were motivated by making sure that their assets were distributed as they wished; 34% wanted to avoid being the source of family conflict after they passed on; 28% wanted simply to look after their family.

In terms of those who actually updated their wills were driven to do so by a major change in wealth holdings (25%); a change to beneficiary marital status (21%), and either birth or death in the immediate family (both at 11%).

69% of respondents recognized the importance of having a power of attorney, and therefore have one in place.  62% of the respondents indicated that they have spoken to their children to make them aware of their wishes.

For the component that does not have a will in place only 15% of respondents most blamed a lack of time as the main barrier for doing so.

“There is a common misconception that wills are only necessary for parents or those with a high-net worth. However, that’s simply not the case,” added Ms. Plant.

“Regardless of one’s martial or parental status, or level of wealth, having a will is an essential part of estate planning that allows an individual to design how their assets should be distributed.”

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