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On the importance of having a will

A will is the best way to protect those you love


Is a Will really that important? Definitely! A Will allows you, among other things, to protect your loved ones following your death, but also to convey your last wishes, to choose your heirs, to protect and ensure the future of your children, to appoint a trusted person to liquidate your estate, avoid certain tax consequences, and more. It ensures you still have a voice and your wishes will be heard after you pass away.


What is the purpose of a Will?


Firstly, a Will is a written document that ensures the estate of the deceased will be settled according to their last wishes. It is a legal document that identifies the heirs, the guardians who will look after the children in the event of death, the liquidator (also known as the executor), and other details regarding the assets of the deceased person, directives regarding their funeral, etc. A notarized Will is the best way to protect your loved ones and simplify their lives following your death, and ensure that your assets and property will be distributed to the people you have chosen. Secondly, this document is of great use to the executor, whose role is to carry out the wishes of the deceased; the more details and instructions there are, the easier this task will be. Having a legal Will in due form also prevents many conflicts that could arise within your family and loved ones. Finally, a will is a document that speaks on your behalf after your death, and as such is of the utmost importance.


Who should have a Will?


Everybody. At the very least, anyone with children, assets, or property should have a Will. In fact, it is never too early to contact a notary to draft this document that will ensure peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. You should know that even if your heritage consists of only a few memories, it remains important to have a Will to ensure they are distributed to your loved ones according to your wishes. Having a Will is all the more important if you have children, as it allows you to determine who will become the guardian of your children in the event of the death of both parents or the only parent responsible. This alone is reason enough to proceed with the drafting of this document. Indeed, all members of your family can apply to become guardian of your children after your death, and the decision will be up for the court to make a choice among the applicants. Thus, if you have not expressed your wishes in writing, they will unfortunately not be taken into account, besides if you are a shareholder of a company, it is essential to ensure the long-term future of the company by including one or more clauses to this effect in your Will.


Possible consequences of not having a Will


First, you should know that when a person dies without leaving a will, this situation is called a legal succession or an intestate succession. In this situation, the estate will be managed in accordance with the regulations in force in the province. If you die without leaving a will, administration of the estate will take much longer and incur more costs, and if all the family members renounce the estate, it will end up in the hands of Revenu Québec. Generally, your marital status and your filiation (if you have children) will be considered for this purpose, rather than your actual wishes. In other words, if you have not prepared a will, it is very likely that your assets will not be distributed to the people you would have wanted, and this could even cause some financial difficulties for your loved ones.


Why use the services of a notary for drafting a Will?


By using the services of a legal professional such as a notary to draft your Will, you ensure that nothing will be left to chance. A notary will be able to give you the best advice and inform you of your rights and everything involved in the administration of your estate after your death. Furthermore, a notary can guarantee the validity of your Will, thanks to their profound knowledge of the law to ensure everything is done in compliance with the Civil Code of Québec. Also, by having a notarized Will, you greatly minimize the chances of it being challenged. Also note that your notary will keep a signed copy and register it in the Register of Testamentary Dispositions of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, to offset any chance that it might be lost or destroyed, in case of a fire, for example.

Additionally, make sure to review and update your Will every few years or whenever a significant change happens in your life, for example following a marriage or the birth of a child, or after the acquisition of a new property. This Will ensure that your will reflects your current situation and wishes.

All in all, a Will is the document that allows you to legally protect your loved ones and assets, and also to express your last wishes and instructions as to how you want the situation to be handled following your death. Not leaving a Will could cause a lot of difficulties and sometimes even conflicts within your social circle. That is why you should contact Trépanier & Raffoul Notaires to gain peace of mind, and get accurate counselling that will make all the difference.

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