Hergott: Make a will

Paul Hergott discusses the importance of making a will

Only fifty-five per cent have a current and legal will?

It seems I put the cart way, way before the horse with my last column, warning about wills being challenged in court!

I had no idea that so many haven’t gotten to first base in looking after their affairs.

Death is a certainty, but unpredictable. Don’t expect a two week warning tap on the shoulder to get affairs in order.

I learned of the fifty-five per cent statistic when doing a bit of research about “Make a Will Week.” My last column prompted a Lower Mainland radio station to invite me to call in as a “will expert” during that week.

I had never heard of this week set aside to increase awareness of the benefits of having a will. April 9-15, 2017, has been proclaimed “Make a Will Week” by the Government of British Columbia.

I am far from being a “will expert,” by the way. My legal career has been built on litigation, not making wills. Understanding what leads to lawsuits, though, and the outcome of those lawsuits, gives excellent insight on how to avoid problems from occurring in the first place.

It’s no fun thinking about death!

I got to know a funeral pre-arranger a few years ago. Imagine picking your own casket, the music, perhaps even writing your own obituary! All that, and paying for it in advance!

No fun, but what a beautiful gift for those who would otherwise be left to agonize about those decisions in their time of grief.

Making your will is a whole lot easier. Cheaper too, particularly during “Make a Will Week.”

On the government “Make a Will Week” website, there is a long list of links to free or very inexpensive resources.

There’s a link to do it yourself “will kits” costing under $20.00. Another link takes you to the Canadian Bar Association, which offers very inexpensive ($25.00 for one-half hour, by toll free telephone) consultations with lawyers.

You stand the best chance of your assets and estate being handled according to your wishes, and as inexpensively as possible, by having a full consultation and your will prepared and executed with a lawyer or notary, and I strongly advise everyone to do that.

But until you have the motivation, time or money for that full service, there’s really no excuse for anyone not to have a will by the end of the week.

There are many good reasons to get your affairs in order with a will.

Without a will, a legislated formula determines who gets what. You should decide how to allocate your estate, between those you love and care about and/or perhaps a charity.

Don’t forget to leave something special for your favourite columnist 😉

You don’t want children in your care left in limbo about who will look after them and their affairs.

You also want to minimize the expense of dealing with your estate so that as much as possible can go to your beneficiaries.

Please help get the word out about the importance of having a will, and resources available to make it happen, during “Make a Will Week.”