One of the dominant misconceptions of Will-making is that a Will “is the one document that says what I want when I die.” Consider what would need to include to make it true. Think about your Will – What does it actually say? If you’re honest with yourself, does it say anything about “what you want when you die”?
There’s so much more that a Will does not and can not address. It’s important that everyone acknowledges that a Will is merely a legal tool to be used to perform a job.
To better help explain this, I have a useful analogy that works for most folks. Imagine you and your sister want to take a road trip to Halifax. You need a vehicle, gas, oil, snacks and a map. Imagine that you show up at your sister’s place ready to hit the road and she hands you a quart of oil and says “Let’s do this! Let’s go!”. You love her enthusiasm but you’re looking around for a car full of gas and all you have is a quart of oil in your hands. “What am I supposed to do with this?!” you say, to which she replies “Take me to Halifax, silly!”.
A Will is the quart of oil that will help you get your car to Halifax. It is not the car, and it is certainly not Halifax. Unfortunately, many folks think they’re leaving Halifax for their executors and all they’re leaving is a quart of oil. You absolutely need the oil, but it’s so far from the whole job. It’s just a tool. When you only leave them the oil you are leaving so much work to your Executor to figure out, find, screw up or give up on.
Here are the three misconceptions people have about Wills and why:
- A Will is permanent: Wrong. A legal document can only reflect reality today – reality is always changing and your Will needs to change along with it. Let’s say a new family member is born, or you remarry, buy a new house, or get a divorce. Whatever it may be, your will needs to evolve with you and your life to be truly reflective of your wishes.
- A Will says what you want when you die: No, a Will is for your property, and where you want it to go. Unless you completely define yourself by the stuff you’ve accumulated, a Will says nothing about your life and what you want. Some of the most important elements accrued in life are not tangible and ensuring those things are passed down to the next generation requires a plan. Check out our Estate Planning Service to learn more.
- Signing a Will will increase the chances that you will die: Incorrect. Your chances remain at 100%, with a Will or no Will. Having a Will in place before you die makes closing your estate that much easier on your loved ones.
The moral of the story – a Will is like the oil in your car. It helps you to get where you want to go and it needs changing. Do you have questions about your Will? Do you need to create a Will? Get in touch with Brown Lawyers by phone or through our website.