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Advice from somebody who’s died: Make a will!

If you’re anything like me – a 20-something just getting started out in their career, maybe you own a home and a decent car, perhaps you’ve got a spouse or even a young family, – you’re definitely not planning to die any time soon. You’re probably going to push this off as unnecessary advice and move on to the next article.

However, I’m going to ask you to humour me for a couple of minutes.

As strange as it may sound, I died unexpectedly when I was 14 years old. Until that day, I was a healthy 14-year-old living his life as any young teenager would. One Friday evening, I experienced a serious concussion and was rushed to Children’s Hospital and died in the ambulance on the way there. I was induced into a coma while the doctors tried to stabilize me at the hospital and finally woke up a day later.

My point here is that you could die any time – regardless of how healthy you are as you sit here and read this article.

If you die without a will, someone has to apply to the court for an order, called Letters of Administration, giving them the authority to manage your affairs, including your belongings and finances. This person will distribute your things according to the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act. Without a will, the law decides how your estate will be distributed.

By preparing a will, you decide who will manage your affairs when you die, how your belongings are distributed, and how to handle your final arrangements. For example, if you wanted to use some of your money to help pay for your pet’s expenses when you die, to help pay for your children (or other relatives) to go to school, or to be gifted to a charity, you can do that.

Without a will, you cannot and it will be up to the executor to try and guess your wishes. If nothing else, a will is your final gift to your loved ones as it expresses your wishes and helps them avoid the stress of the unknown.

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