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November's the time to get your affairs in order

This is Make a Will Month and the Ontario Bar Association is taking the lead in emphasizing the critical importance of having a will
Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

November is Make a Will Month, and the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) is once again taking the lead in emphasizing the critical importance of having a will. As part of this annual initiative, OBA volunteers will conduct free public information sessions throughout the month in communities across the province, helping empower individuals with the knowledge and resources needed to secure their future and that of their loved ones.

This year, residents of Simcoe County will have the opportunity to attend a virtual session on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. in partnership with the New Tecumseth Public Library. Registration information can be found here.

“Estate planning is not just about the distribution of assets; it's about protecting your loved ones, even when you're no longer there to do it yourself,” says Peter McKenna, a lawyer at Feehely Gastaldi Barristers & Solicitors, who will be leading the session.

For OBA president Kelly McDermott, this initiative not only underscores the value of a properly drafted will, but also the invaluable expertise possessed by OBA members.

“Each year, Make a Will Month shines a spotlight on the remarkable dedication of our members across the province,” says McDermott. “This service not only demonstrates the extensive involvement of our volunteer lawyers in their communities, but also showcases the invaluable expertise that OBA members bring to the public.”

In a world where the landscape of personal and financial matters is constantly evolving, the message of Make a Will Month is more significant than ever. The repercussions of errors in will drafting can be profound, leading to ambiguity, disputes, and often costly litigation, even within families who get along. Modern considerations, such as digital assets, retirement savings, marital status, and online accounts, have become integral aspects of the will-making process. Moreover, the necessity of periodic reviews to ensure wills remain up to date cannot be underestimated.

“Wills have evolved over the years, but their importance remains constant,” says Marni D. Pernica, chair of the OBA's Trusts and Estates Law Section. “Nowadays, individuals must grapple with an array of factors when crafting or revising their wills. Given that wills serve to provide for loved ones, they must be drafted in a manner that genuinely reflects a person's wishes. Lawyers can offer individuals the peace of mind that comes with knowing their affairs have been handled with the utmost care and accuracy.”

For more information on the campaign and to find a free information session near you, visit here.

Quick Facts

  • According to the most recent Canadian Financial Capability Survey (2019), only 55 per cent of Canadians have a will. For people under 35, that number drops to only 22 per cent
  • More than half of Canadians 65 and over have updated their wills in the past five years
  • When a person dies without a will, someone must apply to the court to be appointed as the estate trustee. If there is a dispute as to who should be appointed, a judge will determine the most appropriate person to function as estate trustee