Do you need a Will if you do not have any assets?
While it may seem counterintuitive to make a Will if you do not have anything to put in it, there are actually several important benefits of having an effective estate plan – even when you do not own much.
In this guide, we explore the reasons why a Will is important regardless of your financial situation and provide helpful advice on how to protect yourself, as well as your loved ones, by planning.
Table of Contents
Read on for more information on the question, “do I need a will if I have no assets.”
What is a Will?
A Will, or Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your property, assets, and care of minor children after your death.
By preparing a will, you can specify who will receive your property, assign guardians for any minor children, and name an executor to manage your estate.
Without a will, provincial law will govern how your assets are distributed, and your family may end up spending additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs.
When it is time for you to get a will in place, you may hire an estate lawyer to draft it for you or use a reputable online will platform like Willful or Epilogue to create a legally binding will.
Wills are vital and are inexpensive if prepared with an online Will writing service.
Do I Need a Will If I Have No Assets?
Yes, it is necessary to have a will if you have no assets. Even if you don’t have many assets to distribute, a will is still necessary as it will dictate the distribution of any assets you have.
For example, suppose you have Canada Pension Plan (CPP) death benefits or Supplemental Death Benefits (SDB). In that case, your Will can guide the Trustee about how the benefits should be paid.
Without a will, the Trustee is not bound to follow your wishes and could potentially distribute the assets in a way that is not in keeping with your intentions.
Additionally, a will can help your family avoid conflict when you die, and it is not something you should draft yourself. I recommend you use an online Will writing service to make your Will.
Therefore, even if you are young, single, childless, and broke, it is still essential to have a will in place.
Do You Need a Will If You Have No Assets?
The simple answer is yes. There is a general misconception that you need to have real estate or other substantial property before making a Will.
Believe it or not, you probably own more than you think. There are very few people who own absolutely nothing.
Even if you think you have no assets, you likely own more than you think! Check this out. How many of these do you own?
- Money in your savings or chequing bank account
- Investments, bonds, mutual funds, Guaranteed Investments Certificates (GICs), stocks
- Pensions, life insurance policies.
- Digital assets (such as social media and email accounts, intellectual property, and websites/blogs)
- Cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
- Personal benefits
- Settlements (for example if you died from an automobile accident and their is a settlement, who would this go to?)
If you own any of these items I just mentioned, and you are a legal adult, you should make your Will NOW. At the very least, a basic one.
By creating a last will and testament, you can be sure that your final wishes are respected.
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Do I Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?
No, you do not need a lawyer to write a valid will. With an online Will Platform (like Epilogue or Willful), you can create a legally binding and tailored to your specific needs.
However, suppose your family or financial situation is complicated. In that case, you may want to hire a lawyer to advise you of any potential legal issues or conflicts that may arise with preparing your Will.
Why You Need a Will, Even If You Have No Assets
The reason for needing a will, even if you have no assets, is to ensure that someone you trust will take care of your final affairs and distribute your property according to your wishes.
A will allows you to designate a personal representative to handle these tasks rather than leaving it up to the court to appoint someone.
Additionally, if you have young children, it is essential to designate who should care for them if something happens to you. Without a will, it is the court that decides who will become the guardian of your children.
Do I Need a Will If I Own Almost Nothing?
The simple answer is yes. Although you may not have many assets to distribute, having a will in place is still important.
Your Will directs the distribution of your assets, even if you don’t have many. It also ensures that the people you care about will be taken care of if something happens to you.
It also allows you to designate a personal representative – someone you trust – to handle your final affairs after you pass away.
Your Will is also important if you get married, have children, or come into assets, as it allows you to specify who should receive your estate.
Even if you don’t think you own anything, consider if you have a car, a chequing or savings account, furniture, investments, or receive bonuses from your job. All of these items are considered “assets” and should be accounted for in your Will if you have one.
Finally, it can be important to consider who will care for your minor children if something were to happen to you. Without a will in place, the court will appoint someone to care for your children, which may not be the choice you would have wanted.
For these reasons, it is crucial to consider getting a will in place, even if you think you own very little. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will that suits your needs and ensure that your assets and loved ones are adequately taken care of.
What Does a Will Do?
A will is a legal document that allows individuals to dictate their wishes for how their estate should be distributed upon their death.
It allows individuals to name a personal representative who will represent their estate, as well as a guardian for any minor children.
A will can also specify where assets such as bank balances, property, and prized possessions should be distributed and who should receive payouts from life insurance policies and investment accounts.
In addition, Wills typically include instructions for a spouse or children.
Failure to prepare a will can result in provincial law governing the distribution of assets and may cause family strife.
To ensure everything is in order, it is best to have a Will prepared.
A will is an important document that helps relieve stress from family and loved ones during a time of grief and ensures that your last wishes are followed.
What are the Benefits of Having a Will?
Having a will can bring many benefits, including clarity about who gets your assets and how much; preventing your assets from falling into the hands of people you don’t want to have them; identifying a guardian for your children; making it easier for your heirs to access your assets; planning for tax savings; and ensuring your last wishes are followed.
Having a will is especially important if you’re married, have children, or have assets.
Even if you are young, single, childless and don’t have a lot of assets, it is still worth considering having a will in place to provide peace of mind that your wishes will be followed after you die.
Dying Without A Will In Canada
Dying without a will in Canada can have serious legal consequences for your family and loved ones.
Without a will, the provincial laws where you live will determine how your estate is divided and who it goes to. / will determine who inherits your estate, including all of your assets and any debts, and who will be appointed as your executor. This can be very different from what you would have wanted and may not consider your family’s specific needs.
This means that your wishes may not be considered, and your estate may not go to the people or causes you wanted it to.
Without a will, your loved ones will also have to deal with more work and stress as they are left to navigate the complexities of the provincial estate laws.
It is crucial for Canadians to make a Will to ensure their wishes are respected and to avoid leaving their family with a complex and expensive legal process.
Having a will is crucial because it ensures that your estate and affairs are managed according to your instructions upon your death.
What Does Dying Intestate Mean?
Dying intestate means dying without a will. Without a will, the government will use provincial laws to decide how to distribute your estate and appoint your executor.
This means that your assets (anything of financial or other value) and any debts will be distributed according to the set formula used in your province, which may be very different from what you would have wanted.
Without a will, you can’t choose who you’d like to benefit from your estate or leave money to a charity you care about.
Dying intestate also creates a lot of work and stress for the loved ones you leave behind and can have tax consequences.
So, What Exactly Happens If I Die Without A Will?
Who Will Be In Charge Of My Estate?
If you die without a will, the probate court will need to appoint an administrator or public Trustee to manage your estate.
The administrator has the same duties as an executor. Usually, your closest relative has the right to be appointed as your personal representative.
This person will be responsible for administering the estate, paying your bills and dealing with debt collectors, and distributing your assets according to the law or to those who you had designated as beneficiaries.
Without a will, delays and extra expenses could be involved in wrapping up your affairs, and disputes could arise among your loved ones over your possessions.
Who Will Take Care Of My Children?
If something were to happen to me and I die without having written a will, who would take care of my children?
It is important to consider who will take on the role of guardian for your children if you cannot do so, as this person will gain all of the rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent.
In your Will, you can appoint a guardian who is appropriate and has similar views on raising children as you.
Additionally, you should give them the power to invest the money to the best of their ability, pay for the maintenance and education of your children, and provide for unexpected expenses.
What Happens To Your Bank Account When Someone Dies Without A Will?
When someone dies without a will, the provincial government has the right to decide who gets the money in their bank account.
This can lead to the deceased’s immediate family members or blood relatives being prioritized, which can leave common-law partners without any financial support from the deceased’s estate.
Furthermore, without a will, a trustee must be appointed to administer the estate and distribute assets, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Additionally, family and friends may be shocked to learn that there were no instructions given by the deceased on how to handle their estate and funeral arrangements, leading to further delays.
Who Will Get My Estate?
If you die without making a will, who will get your estate?
This depends on the laws in the province where you reside.
Generally, if you are survived by a spouse and children, they will receive your estate.
Suppose you are not survived by a spouse or children. In that case, your estate will go to your next closest surviving relatives, as determined by order of priority in accordance with provincial legislation.
Suppose you want to keep your former spouse from receiving a portion of your estate, or you want to specify how much of your estate that person will receive. In that case, you can make a Will and specify this.
Ultimately, making a will is the best way to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Problems that arise when someone dies without a Will
When someone dies without a Will, several problems can arise.
First, the deceased’s property will be divided according to the law, which may not be the same as what they would have wanted.
Second, there will be extra time delays and expenses involved in wrapping up the estate, and the court will have to appoint someone to act as the personal representative.
Third, the spouse may not have the right to a share of the estate without making a claim against the estate.
Fourth, there may be further costs and delays due to provincial regulations varying from province to province.
Fifth, the grieving family and friends may be shocked to discover that there was no will and that the estate must be managed and distributed according to the law.
Finally, the court-appointed personal representative may need to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee Without a Will to gain authority to manage and distribute the estate.
Top 10 Excuses for Not Having a Will
1. Everything is going to my spouse whether I have a Will or not.
When a person dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to the intestacy laws established by their province. This means that their spouse may not get all of their assets, as the estate may be divided among other relatives, depending on how close they are to the deceased.
Additionally, the spouse may only be entitled to one-third of the estate, depending on how long the couple was married before death.
The lost opportunity to make sound tax plans, manage potential liabilities, and plan for special circumstances is also a consequence of dying without a will.
2. I have a Last Will and Testament; I did it several years ago.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that outlines how a person’s estate (assets, property, and other possessions) should be distributed upon the person’s death.
It must be written in accordance with the laws of the province where the document is executed. For it to be valid, it must be dated and signed by the person making the Will (the testator).
The importance of having a valid and up-to-date Last Will and Testament cannot be overstated. Not only does it provide assurance that your wishes will be carried out upon your death, but it also avoids potential disputes among family members over the division of your estate.
Furthermore, it is an opportunity to recognize people or organizations that have positively influenced your life by leaving them a gift in your Will.
It is important to note that in most jurisdictions, an older Will can become invalid if there have been significant changes since it was written.
For example, suppose the testator has had children since the Will was written. In that case, the Will must be updated to include the children as beneficiaries.
As such, it is essential to regularly review and update your Last Will and Testament to ensure it remains valid and reflects your current wishes.
Use Epilogue or Willful to create your Will, as you’ll get unlimited free updates for life. Also, Epilogue Wills are future-proof, as they do not have to be updated when you have more kids.
3. I’m not worth anything. When I’ve accumulated some assets, I’ll write a Last Will and Testament.
You may think that since you don’t have any assets right now, it’s not worth making a Will. However, while it’s true that your estate plan isn’t necessary until there are assets to manage, the reality is that it’s never too early in life to start thinking about how you want things handled when you pass away.
As a personal finance expert, let me assure you of this: taking the time now to create a Will that includes instructions on the disposition of your non-financial property, and any future assets you eventually accumulate, will save your family valuable time, money and effort during an already difficult time in their lives.
What are some reasons for not having a Will when you’re worth nothing?
- You are too young to be legally responsible for the assets you own.
- You don’t have any assets or property to distribute upon your death.
- You don’t have dependents or heirs that need to be taken care of after your death.
- You don’t have any stocks, investments, or business interests that need to be addressed.
- You don’t have any life insurance policies or savings bonds that need to be distributed.
- You don’t have any debts or outstanding loans that need to be paid off.
- You don’t receive income from a pension, employer stock options, or bonuses.
- You don’t have any retirement accounts that need to be distributed.
- You don’t have any charitable organizations or causes you would like to support.
4. I’ve told everybody what I want to happen. I don’t need to write it in a Will.
When you write a will and tell everyone what you want to happen with your estate, you are taking a necessary step to ensure that your wishes are followed after you pass away.
This will help to prevent family disputes and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Writing a valid Will also prevents provincial officials or judges from deciding how your estate is divided.
Additionally, it is vital to have your Will witnessed to reduce the chances of it being successfully challenged after your death.
If you want to be completely confident that your Will is properly prepared, you should have it prepared by an estates lawyer or a reputable online Will platform.
5. It’s nothing to do with me. I’ll be dead anyway; I’ll let somebody else sort it out.
Making a Will positively affects those still alive, even if the person who wrote the Will isn’t around to see it.
It allows the person to determine how their assets and liabilities will be distributed upon their death, recognizes the people and organizations that have made a difference in their life, and can provide a sense of closure to their loved ones.
Without a Will, the province will determine how the deceased’s estate is distributed, often leaving out certain family members or friends that the deceased would have wanted to recognize.
Additionally, without a Will, the family may be left to deal with extra time delays and expenses and could fall into disputes over the deceased’s possessions.
Therefore, creating a Will is a great way to ensure that the person’s legacy lives on and is properly taken care of after they are gone.
6. I’m too young to write a Will.
The age requirement for writing a Will is typically the age of majority in your province of residence.
Writing a Will is a legal document that allows the individual to specify who should receive their assets and possessions after they die.
In most jurisdictions, an individual must be of legal age to write a Will. This means that the individual must be the age of majority.
Additionally, the individual must be of sound mind and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when writing the Will.
If an individual is younger than 18 and wishes to write a Will, they may be able to do so if they meet the requirements of a minor’s Will.
A minor’s Will typically requires the approval of a guardian or court.
7. I can’t afford it at the moment.
What are the costs involved in having a Will?
The cost of having a Will written will depend on several factors, including the complexity of the document, the number of assets you own, and the size of your estate.
Generally, you can expect to pay a lawyer between $500 and $2,500 for a Will.
The most cost-effective option is to use an online Will writing platform as they are affordable – between $39 to $179 for a Will.
The following are the top 3 most trusted online Will makers in Canada:
|Online Will Maker||Price||Availability|
|Willful||$99-$329||BC, AB, SK, MT, ON, QC, NB, NS|
|Epilogue||$139-$289||BC, AB, SK, MT, ON, NB, NS, PEI, NL|
|LegalWills||Starts at $39||Across Canada|
If you choose to write your own Will, no cost may be involved, depending on the province you live in.
Some provinces offer free Will-writing kits that may be used to create a valid document, while others may require a fee. Additionally, you may need to pay filing fees and court costs if your Will needs to be probated.
8. It’s a pain to find a lawyer and set up an appointment. I never have the time.
Writing a Will is critical in ensuring your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. Still, finding a lawyer and setting up an appointment can often be a hassle.
This is why services like Willful and Epilogue are so helpful. They allow you to easily create your own legal Will from the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits me.
With their lawyer-approved online service, you can easily follow their simple, step-by-step instructions, which are written in plain language.
Additionally, they offer help every step of the way, and I can save hundreds of dollars in lawyer’s fees.
With their 30-day money-back guarantee, you can trust that you’re making the right decision.
9. I used a DIY Will kit. I’m good.
A Will kit is a pre-packaged set of documents and instructions designed to enable individuals to create their own themselves. However, Will kit has some limitations.
While there may be simple off-the-shelf Wills kits available online, it’s key to acknowledge that these are not always sufficient for your family’s estate planning needs. In fact, the majority of these kits are generic; meaning that they may not comply with the legal requirements for a Will in your province.
Secondly, any mistakes in the paperwork could result in costly delays and court proceedings. Executors may find themselves going to court an attempting to rectify errors which could incur substantial legal fees – something nobody wants!
Estate law is too complex to be covered comprehensively by any generic kit. With this being said, it’s certainly worth using premium online Will platforms lawyers as they provide you with personalized and compliant documentation for your estate planning purposes.
This is why I recommend you have a comprehensive and personalized Will created by using a reputable online Will platform without needing a lawyer. It is the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed and that your estate is protected.
RELATED >> Will kit vs premium Online Will platforms
10. The whole idea of writing a Will is confusing. I don’t even understand the most basic terms they use and don’t have time to learn.
Understanding the basic terms used in a Will is essential when it comes to estate planning.
A Will is a legally binding document that states how a person’s property and assets will be distributed upon death.
It is essential to understand the terms used in a Will as they will dictate how the assets are distributed and to whom.
First, a testator is a person who makes the Will. The testator is the one who decides how their assets will be distributed and to whom.
Second, an executor is an individual appointed by the testator to carry out the provisions of the Will. The executor is responsible for ensuring the testator’s wishes are carried out promptly and in accordance with the law.
Third, a beneficiary is an individual or organization that is given a specific asset or inheritance through the Will. A beneficiary can receive a certain percentage of the testator’s estate, or they can be given a specific asset, such as a house or a car.
Fourth, a devise (or bequest) is the term used to describe the gift of a specific asset or real estate to a beneficiary.
Finally, an intestate is a person who dies without a valid Will. In this case, the law will determine the distribution of the testator’s assets and property, which may not be what the testator intended.
Understanding these basic terms is essential because it allows the testator to make informed decisions about their estate planning. It also ensures that their wishes will be carried out correctly after they pass away.
Now that you have understood the basic terms used in writing a Will start your Will now!
How to Set Up a Will
Step 1: Compile a List of Your Assets and Debts
Begin by creating a detailed list of your assets and debts, including your safe deposit box contents, family heirlooms, investments, accounts, and other items you want to transfer to a particular person or entity.
Step 2: Identify Recipients of Specific Assets
If you wish to leave particular personal property to specific heirs, begin a list of those allocations for eventual inclusion in your Will. You may also identify the recipients of specific assets in a separate document called a letter of instruction, which should be kept with the Will. However, check to see if the document is legally binding where you live; some provinces do not recognize them.
Step 3: Prepare Other Addenda
In addition to the Will, consider preparing a power of attorney, medical directive, or living will to direct the court on handling matters if you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Step 4: Create a Separate Will for Each Spouse
If you and your spouse lack Wills, resist the temptation to prepare a single joint will. Separate wills make more sense, even if they may end up looking remarkably similar.
Step 5: Draft the Document
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes will be carried out, create what’s known as a testamentary will. You can write the Will yourself, but having it prepared professionally by using an online Will platform ensures it’ll be worded precisely, correctly, and in keeping with your provincial laws.
The following are the top 3 most trusted online Will platforms in Canada:
|Online Will Maker||Price||Availability|
|Willful||$99-$329||BC, AB, SK, MT, ON, QC, NB, NS|
|Epilogue||$139-$289||BC, AB, SK, MT, ON, NB, NS, PEI, NL|
|LegalWills||Starts at $39||Across Canada|
Step 6: Select Witnesses
The Will must be witnessed by two adults of sound mind who know you well. Any person who is over 18 and deemed competent may act as a witness to your Will. Still, it’s best to pick a disinterested witness—someone who isn’t a beneficiary and has no financial or personal stake in your choices.
Step 7: Notarize the Document and/or File it at the Superior Court
In some provinces, a will must be notarized, so check the rules where you live. Even if it’s not required, consider having your witnesses complete a self-proving affidavit to reduce the likelihood that witnesses will be called into court to validate their signatures and the Will’s authenticity.
Set Up My Will NOW ⤵️
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I write a Will if I have no money?
Yes, you should write a will if you have no money since it is a legal document that dictates the distribution of assets when you die.
If you die without a will, provincial law will govern the distribution of assets.
Writing a will is even more critical if you are married, have kids, or have assets, as it can help avoid conflict when you die.
Even if you believe that you don’t have any assets, a will can help in other situations, such as if you have a spouse.
You must use a reputable online Will provider to make your Will so that it is done correctly.
What is the term for a situation where a person dies without a Will?
The term for a situation where a person dies without a will is “intestate.” This means that the government will use provincial laws to decide how to distribute the deceased person’s estate and appoint an executor.
This may differ from what the deceased would have wanted as the government does not consider the individual family’s needs.
The estate will be distributed to the next-of-kin when a person dies intestate, according to the Succession Law Reform Act. The Estate Administration Act lists those who will be given preference to apply for a grant of administration.
Without a will, a common-law spouse has no right to a share of the estate without making a claim against the estate.
If there is no Will, who is the executor?
The executor of a will without a will is a person appointed by the court to act as the personal representative. This person, often a close relative, is responsible for administering the deceased’s estate, carrying out the wishes specified in the Will, and dealing with debt collectors.
If the estate is complicated, the court may appoint a lawyer or someone with legal and financial expertise.
Without a will, the estate will be distributed to the next of kin according to the laws of the province, which may not be how the deceased would have wanted.
Final Thoughts: Do You Need a Will If You Have No Assets?
Every Legal Adult Needs A Will
It really is a no-brainer – there is absolutely no good reason not to have a Will in place. Sure, it may take a few minutes of your time and you may need to shell out some cash, but the consequences of dying without a Will can be serious and far-reaching.
That’s why services like LegalWills exist – they make creating your estate planning documents quick and easy. With its user-friendly service and top-notch customer support team, estate planning doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
All you have to do is answer some simple questions online, and the process can be completed within 20 minutes – starting at an affordable cost of $39! Don’t wait – complete your Will today with LegalWills!
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When estate planning, one question you might be wondering is do I need a Will if I have no assets? This is a common but important question! The simple answer is yes; even if you do not possess assets, it is still essential to have a last Will and testament.
This is because a Will dictates how your affairs will be handled once you pass away. Creating a Will is an extremely important part of ensuring that the wishes of the deceased after their passing are carried out as they wished.
Even if you think you have no assets, you likely own more than you think – such as furniture, vehicles, insurance policies, investments, and more.
Moreover, even if you do not have any assets, you may still be able to accumulate a substantial sum in supplemental death benefits or settlement. It is vital to make sure you have a Will in place for this money, as without it, the Trustee has the power to decide how it is distributed, which may not be in line with your wishes.
Additionally, if you are married and/or have children, it is crucial to have a Will in place to ensure your family is not left with conflict when you die.
Therefore, even if you do not have any assets now, a will is incredibly beneficial in providing peace of mind and control over the future of your estate. it is vital to have a will in place to ensure that your wishes are followed when the time comes.
It also allows you to appoint an executor to help make sure your wishes are carried out with precision. Creating a will can be relatively straightforward, so do not let fund size determine whether you do or do not take this important step.
By creating a last Will and testament, you can be sure that the people you care about will receive your property and that your final wishes are respected.
I Want Control Over the Future of My Estate! Start My Will ⤵️
More on Wills and Estate Planning, Canada
- Do You Need a Will If You Have No Assets?
- Estate Planning Checklist
- Power of Attorney, Ontario
- Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
- Pets and Wills
- Pets Wills (Information for Dog Parents)
- Make a Will Week, BC
- How to Write a Will in Canada
Charity (Charee) Oisamoje is the founder of TheFinanceKey - TFK. She leads the editorial team, which is comprised of subject-matter experts.
Her professional competencies and expertise make her qualified on this topic. She is an expert at collecting details, verifying facts, and making complex subjects easy to understand.
Backed by Solid Credentials: MBA in Finance Canadian Investment Funds (IFIC) Graduate Masters Degree in International Business Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) Candidate ✔️Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) ✔️BSc Accounting
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