Make a Will –for Your Kid– Month

Many clients ask me if their children who are young adults, single, with no children need a Will. There is no question that the more complex a person’s situation the greater the need to have a Will. For a young adult in school who has virtually no assets the need to make a will is marginalized. As one acquires assets then the need for a Will increases in importance. However, consider for the moment your son who is a student working part-time and who lives “hand-to-mouth” as they say, with virtually no savings. Does he really need a Will? Well, if he dies without a Will there is no person with legal authority to plan his funeral, deal with his “digital assets”, close out his bank account, file his final tax return (which may result in refundable credits), sell his car, collect his last pay cheque, retain a lawyer to sue if the cause of death was related to a civil wrongdoing, or to make inquiries of any kind concerning the affairs of the deceased with anyone who is bound by strict privacy laws. Millennials may not have savings in a bricks & mortar bank but they now may digital assets such as email, social media history, gaming credits, cloud repositories and crypto-currency. A spokesperson from Deloitte Canada told The Globe and Mail that, by 2020, the average Canadian will have digital assets worth at least $10,000. In the end, there almost always seems to be a need for someone with legal authority to wind-up the affairs of a loved one.

Without a Will there is no executor with this authority so an eligible relative must apply to the Court for a grant of Letters of Administration which is a legal process requiring the help a lawyer. To get this grant it must then be demonstrated that an extensive search was conducted to find a Will, and other legal documentation which can create extra work and unnecessary confusion among family members at an already difficult time. The delays and costs far outweigh the costs of having a simple Will prepared. This is why I can never, in good conscious, tell a client “don’t worry about a Will for your child, if they don’t have assets”.

But no discussion of Wills is complete without mention of their close blood-relative, Powers of Attorney. Arguably, these documents are more important for young adults. Not even a parent is allowed by law to make any financial decisions, and most personal care decisions, without proper legal authority. That authority is granted from a valid power of attorney. Without a power of attorney a child’s incapacity forces a parent to petition the Court to grant a guardianship order. This is not the same as guardianship of a minor person. It is guardianship of property and person for an incapacitated adult person. This process is more time consuming and more expensive in terms of legal fees, than seeking Letters of Administration where there is no Will.

The Ontario Bar Association has declared November “Make a Will Month”. In line with that declaration Cambridge LLP is welcoming its clients to encourage their children (older than 18) to make a Will. At Cambridge LLP we are calling November “Help Get Your Child’s Affairs In Order For Them” month. For $350.00 plus HST we will prepare a Will and Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (3 separate legal documents). Don’t delay, book an appointment today!

This special pricing is offered only for the children of existing clients (who are over 18 years of age, single, with no children) and provided appointments are booked in November (2 weeks left!) and occur before the end of the year. If your child is away at school no worries they can book a sign-up meeting over the holidays (until January 10)!

Remember that your child’s file is subject to the same strict solicitor-client privilege as your file. This means that without a client’s express written consent no information about a client’s file can be disclosed by Cambridge LLP to anyone other than the client, even if the clients are members of the same family. Testamentary freedom and confidentiality remain sacrosanct.

Adam Cappelli is a founding partner of Cambridge LLP, with offices in Toronto, Burlington, Ottawa, and Elliot Lake. Prior to co-establishing his own practice in 2010, Adam was a partner for nine years at the largest full-service law firm in Southwestern Ontario (“Golden Horseshoe”) area. Each year since 2006, Adam has been voted by his peers as one of "The Best Lawyers in Canada" in the area of Estates and Trusts Law.