A 2012 survey conducted by LawPro’s TitlePlus determined that only 44 per cent of Canadians have Wills and, of those, 30 per cent are out of date.
In general, it is good practice to review your Will every three to five years. An out-of-date Will can be as problematic as not having one at all and could impact how your wishes are reflected. Reviewing your Will is particularly important in the event of significant life changes.
- Marital status changes: In Nova Scotia, marriage revokes your Will entirely unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage. This means referencing the person who you are marrying, not just stating if you’re married. If you divorce, your Will is read as if your former spouse died before you.
- Nature or size of your assets change: The greater the change, the more of an impact may be on your estate. For example, you may have included large cash bequests to certain individuals or charities, with the balance (residue) going to your children. If you have had a significant decline in your assets, this could seriously impact what is left for your children.
- Residence change: As each province has its own legislation relating to Wills, a change in residence is a good time to review your planning.
- Loss or addition of beneficiaries: The death of a beneficiary should trigger a review of your documents as well as the addition of a new child or grandchild. Proper review ensures everyone is included in your planning or removed if they are no longer alive.
- Any health changes: This not only includes a change in your health but a change in the health of your beneficiaries as well. Health changes can impact plans for your beneficiaries.
If you pass away with an out-of-date Will, your estate could take years to settle, stray from your intentions, and incur extra legal fees. Having an up-to-date Will can make things easier, quicker and less expensive for your heirs.