Your will is an essential document that outlines who will take care of your dependents and how your assets will be distributed when you’re no longer around. Many people avoid thinking about this topic as it reminds them of their own mortality. However, it’s crucial to keep your will up to date as your life situation and circumstances can change over time. In this blog post, we will discuss when it’s necessary to rewrite your will and how often you should do it.

When you move to a new province: If you have moved to a new province, you should consider updating your will as each province has different legislation covering wills and estates. It’s essential to make sure that your will follows your new province’s legal requirements. For instance, if your will was created in Ontario, but you’ve moved to British Columbia, there may be differences in the legal requirements that need to be met.

When you have a child (or have more children): Having a child is a significant life event, and you may want to add them as a beneficiary in your will. It’s crucial to provide for their financial future in case something unexpected happens to you. Additionally, if your child is a minor, you must add a guardian to take care of them in your absence.

When you get married: If you get married, it’s critical to update your will to reflect your new marital status. Most provinces will invalidate a will unless it includes a “contemplation of marriage” clause, indicating that you anticipated getting married when you created the will. This is necessary to prevent any misunderstandings about your will.

When you get a new pet or need to remove a pet: If you get a new pet or need to remove an existing pet from your will, it’s time to make updates. Pets can be considered as personal property, and you can leave instructions in your will as to who will be responsible for their care after you’ve passed away.

When you get divorced: If you got divorced, it’s crucial to update your will to ensure that your ex-spouse isn’t listed as a beneficiary or executor. Some provinces have laws that state that an ex-spouse cannot receive a gift in your will or act as your executor, but it’s best to remove them explicitly from your will.

When you purchase an asset or sell one: If you purchase an asset that you want to leave as a specific gift to someone, or you sell an asset that is already listed as a specific gift in your will, you need to update your will to reflect the changes in your assets.

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It’s essential to keep your will up to date as it ensures that your assets and dependents are taken care of according to your wishes. Even if you make no significant changes to your life situation or circumstances, it’s good practice to review your will every few years to make sure it’s still relevant to your wishes and that it follows provincial legal requirements. Remember, rewriting your will isn’t a sign of pessimism. Instead, it’s a responsible step towards ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of when you’re gone.

PATRICK A. BELL – Lawyer at Bell, Jacoe & Company in Summerland BC provides legal help with real estate and wills and estate law.

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