One of the top reasons people finally get around to making a Will is because they have young kids – that’s why I ended up doing it!
But what really happens to your kids if you die without a Will?
It depends! I know, what a typically unhelpful lawyer answer, so here are some generalizations.
Guardianship. If you are married your spouse gets sole custody. If you both die, then things get tricky.
Without a Will, child services will get involved and likely pick a relative or friend for your kids to live with on a temporary basis. Then someone will need to apply for permanent guardianship in front of a judge.
With a Will, you can name a Guardian instead of letting child services decide. They still have to apply for permanent guardianship, but that almost always goes to the person the parents have chosen.
So make sure you are the one deciding who you want to raise your kids, not the government!
Assets. If you and your spouse die without Wills, your kids get all the money (and life insurance, pension payouts, RRSPs, TFSAs, etc.). BUT, kids under 18 can’t legally own property. So that’s a problem!
Without a Will, everything will be sold (including the house) and all assets must be paid into court and managed by the government. They actually do a pretty good job of investment management, but they are notoriously stingy and will not be generous in paying any of the cash out for your child’s living expenses, sports or camps, education, family trips, etc.
And then when your kids turn 18 they get EVERYTHING! How many 18 years old do you know who would be able to handle inheriting $1 million? Thought so.
With a Will you can use a trust and control how much, when and what the money is used for while your kids are growing up and at what age they get the rest.
I usually recommend not younger than 25, and staging it over time so they learn how to manage money, but that’s an in-depth discussion we can only have once we figure out how big your estate might be and what your goals for your children are.
Get a Will. Protect your kids and have a say in their future. It’s too important to leave for another day. And I make it easy – I’ll come to you after the kids are in bed! Email me NOW.