1. You Decide Who Your Assets Go To
A Will allows you to decide who you want, and who you don’t want, to include as a beneficiary to receive your assets on your death. Without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to Alberta’s legislative framework, which may include individuals whom you do not want to provide for and exclude those whom you do.
If you want to leave any of your assets to charitable organizations, friends, godchildren or in-laws, you must do this in a Will, otherwise they will not receive anything from your Estate if you die without a Will.
2. You Decide How Your Assets Are Distributed
In addition to deciding who your assets are distributed to, a Will also allows you to decide how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.
You may want to provide specific gifts, such as family heirlooms, jewellery or set sums of money to specific individuals, and then divide everything else that you own equally, or unequally, among a number of people.
You can also decide to create trusts for your children (or other beneficiaries) so that funds are held for their benefit until they reach a certain age, so that they are mature enough to handle the money. Without these trusts in your Will, your children (or other beneficiaries) will receive their share of your Estate as soon as they reach the age of majority and are free to do whatever they want with it.
3. You Choose Your Personal Representative (AKA Executor)
The Personal Representative, also known as the executor, named in your Will handles the administration of your Estate on your death. Some of the jobs your Personal Representative is responsible for include, making your funeral arrangements, locating, protecting and valuing your assets, maintaining/operating any business(es) that you own, filing income tax returns for you and your Estate, managing trusts for minors or other beneficiaries in your Will, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. Having a Will allows you to choose the person you trust to carry out these important tasks.
4. You Decide Who Will be the Guardian of Your Minor Children
In your Will, you can appoint the individual(s) you trust to become the guardian(s) of your minor children on your death, allowing you to choose who will continue to raise your children. If you die without a Will, you won’t have a say in who raises your children and a judge will be involved in deciding where your children go.
5. A Will Makes Things Easier for Your Loved Ones
On your death, the Personal Representative you name in your Will can provide the original Will and your death certificate as proof of their authority to act on behalf of your Estate, which will help them efficiently obtain information about your assets and liabilities. Without a Will, nobody automatically has the legal authority to act on behalf of your Estate, so banks and other institutions can refuse to provide information to your loved ones about your assets and liabilities until a Grant of Administration is issued by the Court.