Do you need a will? Yes, you do

By Claire C. Sykora

Wills and Estate Law is an inevitable part of life; but it doesn’t have to be painful.

“Many people assume drawing up a will is a long, tedious and expensive process,” explains Claire Sykora, Wills and Estates lawyer with Burchell MacDougall, “but it can be so simple. Not to mention it’s essential to plan for the future to ensure your family and your interests are looked after when you’re gone.”

A will is a legal document expressing how you would like your estate, the assets and property you leave behind, managed when you die. Unfortunately, if someone passes away without a will in place, things can get very complicated.

“The idea of drafting a will brings with it thoughts of our own mortality, which most of us prefer to avoid thinking about,” Claire goes on, “But without a will, when you pass away, your bank accounts, property and assets will be frozen, and ultimately distributed according to the law, not your personal wishes.”

“No one wants to leave their loved-ones in a state of anxiety and financial difficulty, but contesting, or even settling, this process can be incredibly time-consuming and end up costing thousands of dollars in legal and court expenses,” Claire explains, “And all that stress could have been avoided for as little as a couple of hours in my office and a few hundred dollars in fees.”

A will is a relatively simple document. You’re not required to itemize everything you own and provide financial information to your lawyer. Your will can be as general or as detailed as you wish, from passing your entire estate on to your spouse to leaving your favourite niece your [insert what you love here] collection.

Your will also allows you to appoint a trusted executor to manage the details of your estate, as well as make provisions for minor children and dependents.

But as simple as it may be, drafting your will is not a do-it-yourself project. It is an important legal document. Take the time to meet with a Will and Estates lawyer and have them draw-up your will; it will provide peace of mind for you and your family, and save time and money in the long run.

And keep in mind your will can be amended at any time. Claire recommends reviewing and updating the document every five years or whenever there’s a major change in your life, like a birth, a death or a significant change in your assets.

When you create your will, you should also consider drafting two other key estate documents, your power of attorney and your personal directive. These documents allow for the management of your financial affairs and health care, respectively, while you’re alive, but if you were incapacitated and unable to make important decisions for yourself.

“We get so wrapped up in living our daily lives, we often forget that we should prepare for the inevitable,” Claire closes, “Taking the time now to look after your will and estate planning is an investment in the future and the future well-being of your family.”

For more information on Wills and Estates, contact Claire Sykora at or 902.445.5511.

This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.