Rock Hutsul, The Hope Standard’s personal finance columnist, bringing you rock solid advice for you to live your best financial life. Emelie Peacock photo

COLUMN: Buried in Pringles tubes, and other reasons to think about your will

As the legend goes, Fred Baur, the founder of Pringles, left a will requesting that he be cremated, and his ashes buried in a Pringles tube.

A will is your voice after you are no longer here but, if you are like half of Canadians, you don’t have one. It is probably a case of “getting around to it someday.” You have been busy working hard to cover month-to-month expenses and even accumulate a little extra for the future. But, what if that future never comes? Like all aspects of financial planning, it may seem difficult to address in the present, but having a will can make things much easier in the future.

If you die without a will or “intestate,” your assets will be dispersed according to certain legal specifications. For example, according to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, if there is no will, the share for a spouse with children is deemed to be $300,000 plus half of the remainder of the estate. Children of the marriage would share the remainder evenly. There is a smaller spousal share, $150,000 plus half of the remainder, where all the children of the deceased are not also the children of the spouse. There is a good chance that these standard specifications do not line up exactly with what you would wish.

Like me, you have likely seen firsthand the unpleasant situations that can arise for grieving family members when they are trying to cope with the dispersal of an estate following the death of a loved one. In the modern world of multiple marriages and stepfamilies, the lack of a will is sure to compound problems.

Your minor children, in particular, are vulnerable if no will exists and you have not designated guardians or trustees on their behalf. With a will in place, in the event of a common accident where both spouses die, the guardian or guardians would be your choice rather than the choice of the courts. A trustee of funds for the maintenance and education of the minors would be named in the will as well. Talking to the people you are proposing for these roles and getting their approval is an important part of the will planning process.

In your will, you will appoint an executor or executors. An executor oversees, among other responsibilities, the payment for your funeral expenses, the payment of any outstanding debts and, finally, the distribution of your remaining assets according to your wishes. It may help your executor and spare you the cost and inconvenience of redoing your will if your bequests are made in the form of percentages. The value of your estate may fluctuate and percentages can help keep your will reflective of your original intentions. For example, rather than leaving a favourite cause a set dollar amount, you may choose to leave the charity two per cent of your overall estate.

Getting your will all set up may run between $300 to $1,200 depending on the complexity of your situation and whether you use a notary or a lawyer. As with all aspects and steps in the financial planning process, it is wise to review regularly and update when necessary to make sure your goals and priorities are appropriately addressed.

Once your document is complete, congratulate yourself with a light snack. Chips anyone?

Rock Hutsul is the Hope Standard’s finance columnist, giving you rock solid advice for a sound financial present and future. Reach him at rhutsul@telus.net.

Just Posted

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

Group forms in Hope to respond to homelessness, trauma and addictions

Homelessness Action Response Table (HART) full of local, regional, provincial movers and shakers

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

First Nations block roads to stop the moose hunt in B.C.’s Interior

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

‘Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie’: Birds fall dead from the sky in B.C. city

Raptor expert says he’s never seen it happen anywhere in the Lower Mainland

Canada signs global pact to help rid world’s oceans of abandoned fishing gear

The federal Fisheries Minister says it’s a ‘critical issue’

GOP pushing forward for Kavanaugh, accuser wants ‘fairness’

Kavanaugh has denied al allegations of sexual misconduct

Lower Mainland woman sets Grouse Grind record

Madison Sands sets a new best time on Vancouver’s fitness landmark

Tent city campers now allowed to stay in B.C. provincial park

Contrary to earlier reports, Ministry of Environment says there is no deadline for campers to leave Greater Victoria camp site

Bus company vies to replace Greyhound in Kamloops to Vancouver, Kelowna

Alberta-based Ebus applies to the Passenger Transportation Board to replace Greyhound

Most Read