A couple of months ago my husband and I sat down with someone and did a very important thing. It was something we had been *meaning to do* for more than three years now and had just never gotten around to it.
We made a will.
Do you have one? If you own property or have young children, you should. Actually, to be perfectly frank: if you don’t have a will you should be scared as hell and run out and get one soon. I don’t think that we were scared enough ourselves that we didn’t have a will. We should have been. Dying without a will in place is not a good idea.
First off, let me ask you two questions:
- Do you care who your assets go to if you die?
- Do you care who becomes your child’s (or children’s) guardian if you die?
Our answers to both of these questions was a resounding YES. And having a will now means that we have made legally-binding decisions to take care of both of those issues if and when the time comes.
In November 2010 The BC Notaries Society found that only 51% of BC adults had a will in place – a shocking number, really. Why is that? Are we lazy? Do we trust too much in the system? Are we too busy to make time to do this stuff even though we know it’s important? Yes, it’s probably a little of all those answers. It was for us for sure.
We went to a notary to create our will, and she was quite helpful. Of course, she had been through the process many times before with other clients and was good guide for us along the way. It didn’t take that much time (just two meetings) and it forced my husband and I to have some good “what if…?” sort of conversations. I must admit that it was a somewhat unsettling process, and I did have a tear come to my eye once or twice thinking about the worst case scenarios, but it was all worth it in the end. We walked out of the notary’s office with a will AND a long list of other “to do” items and questions around our deaths that we knew we had to take care of right away.
I know the holidays may not be the right time to think about death and wills, but really – when is? The timing doesn’t have to be right. We put off making a will for far too long – scarily long – and time just went by. If you haven’t yet made a will, don’t put it on your New Year’s resolution list, just make the call now and set up an appointment for early January with a notary or lawyer that you know. If you have to, scare yourself into doing by imagining the worst: if you and your partner died this Christmas, what would happen to your children? I’m sure you’d like the chance to choose their guardian and determine how your estate gets divided and settled – a will will do it.
If I’ve got you thinking, here’s some light reading to get you going: