A recent fall in life expectancy rates is a reminder that you’re never too young to make a will.
Between 2020 and 2022, the life expectancy of the average North American dropped for the first time in decades. In the U.S., the headline figure decreased from almost 79 years to just over 76 years, while the Canadian rate suffered a less spectacular – but still significant – drop from 82 to 81.6 years.
The change was largely driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, which offered people of all ages an ugly reminder of our mortality. However, statistics from both countries underline the unpredictable and fragile nature of life for our younger population.
In Canada, accidental deaths grew by an alarming 14.5 per cent in 2021 compared with the pervious year, while U.S. statistics show that their own spike in unintentional injuries made them the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45.
Some of the most common misconceptions I have to correct in my own practice are the ideas that people are either not old enough or that their possessions are not valuable enough to warrant a full estate plan.
The truth is you don’t actually need much personal property to make having a will worthwhile, and your loved ones will certainly thank you for having something in writing about your estate and its disposal, should the worst ever happen.
Even for possessions with more sentimental than monetary value, it’s comforting to know that you are the one deciding where the property ends up after you’re gone.
If you’re tempted to procrastinate, just remember that you are risking a much worse alternative: intestacy. When someone dies without a will, it’s down to the government who decides who gets what, thanks to Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act, which sets strict rules for the distribution of assets in cases where the deceased left no will.
If you have a spouse, the SLRA provides for them to get the first $350,000 from your estate, while the remainder is divided between the spouse and any surviving children.
But there’s no accounting in the Act for individual circumstances, which can lead to issues among the deceased’s surviving relatives.
There is no bigger step you can take towards the creation of a successful estate plan than by drafting a will. It provides the perfect base to work from and can be adjusted as required if and when you move through life’s landmark moments: buying a house, marriage, the birth of a first child, the death of a spouse.
These milestones are a great time to revisit your choices and make sure that the beneficiaries and trustees you named still make sense after the passage of some time.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Laredo Law (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.