Half of Canadian adults don’t have a last will and testament, a new survey by the Angus Reid Institute shows. This is a statistic that has remained stable since the institute last asked five years ago.
While not a shocking statistic for the 18-24 demographic, in which 84 per cent of people said they did not have a will, half of people between the ages of 45 and 54 also said that they were without one. One in five people over 55 don’t have a will either, the survey found.
When looking at the reasons why so many Canadians don’t a will, the top contender in the survey was that most said they simply believed they were too young to think about it, and some appeared to not want to face the inevitability of death by taking that step. Many also consider the process too time consuming.
Socioeconomic status has a huge role as well. The study found that those with a household income of below $100,000 are twice as likely to not have a written will than those whose income is above that mark. This is because they having fewer assets which could otherwise motivate them to get a will.
For those over age 54, the most common reason for not getting a will written is that it’s simply too expensive. This is despite the availability of many free and low cost services online that allow you to create wills virtually.
Toronto-based trusts and estates attorney Marni Whitaker says while there can be costs, they are largely contingent on each individual case.
“The costs vary substantially depending on factors such as the assets held, who the family members are, and the individual’s wishes.” Whitaker said. “For a large percentage of individuals who have no complicated assets and want to leave everything to a surviving spouse or adult children, the process is not complicated.”
While this process might not be complicated, the consequences of dying without a will (‘intestate’) certainly are. When this happens, assets, debts and finances are moved into an estate, where they are then distributed according to provincial rules by a court-appointed representative.
“Not only is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died without a will more complicated and expensive, but the estate passes to people who may not have been the ones chosen,” said Whitaker.
“Every adult should have a will, even if only to name as executor the person who will be responsible for funeral arrangements.”