There have been recent articles about celebrities dying without a will. Celebrities or not, when people die without a will, their assets must go through the probate process, leaving assets and heirs in limbo. Fees are guaranteed and headaches or battles are common.
51% of Canadians do not have a last will and testament in place. 25% think they are too young and 8% do not want to think about dying. If you die without a will in Canada, provincial legislation determines who will administer your estate, including decisions about funeral arrangements, where your assets will go and more.
The time and cost associated with administering an estate exceeds the cost of a properly structured will. A court would also decide who is the estate trustee and who is the guardian of any minor children.
A poorly written will can sometimes be worse than not having one at all. Estates are also subject to taxes and, for wealthy people, that can be significant. Without a will, estate values can be eroded by as much as 70%. Proper planning can reduce that to 20% or with insurance planning to 0%.
It is not fun thinking about these things but without a will, assets are eaten away by unnecessary fees.
We all like to think we will do what is necessary and get in front of this. However, smart people are quite capable of behaving irrationally just like anyone else. We sometimes need a push to do what must be done and get past the paralysis of psychological brick walls that prevent us from getting started. This is the push to get a proper plan in place.