Will You?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I always assumed that as per Murphy’s Law, if I made a will, I would get hit by a bus as I leave the lawyer’s office after signing it.  Well, I have been through the will process twice now (revised when I realized my first will was created before my last three children were born), and good news, I am still here to write about it. 

I had a great conversation with a lawyer the other day about wills.  A very low percentage of the population actually have one, and if they do, half the time they don’t tell the family where to find it.  I was astonished to know that there is no “will registry”, and that upon your death your family could just make your will “disappear” if they didn’t like what was in it.  That is why it is important to provide a copy of your will to your executor and provide the name of your lawyer to family. 

My dad told me an interesting story of a man whose mother had died.  His mother never liked his sister’s husband, and in her will wrote out the sister, leaving everything to him as her son and executor.  His sister asked him about the will.  His response was “she left everything to us, 50/50”.  He went against his mother’s wishes in order to maintain the relationship with his sister and to prevent ill feelings after her passing.  Interesting.  But it begs the question, why write a will if people won’t follow it anyway? 

Wills are important for many reasons.  First of all, they do outline your wishes, even if not followed or contested.  They are your last chance to have the last word (literally).  But they also importantly outline who you are assigning as your Power of Attorney (POA) for Personal Care or Finances, should you become unable to make such decisions.  This is essential.  I have received many files where I am dealing with the POA until my client becomes able to resume their own decision making.  Accidents happen, and you should be prepared.

This Globe and Mail article speaks very clearly about the importance of a will, and offers some great pointers to consider:

A legal will is worth the time and money

So, will you?