April 9th to 15th 2017 is ‘Make a Will Week’ in BC, which encourages residents to create a will or update their current one. Rise Women’s Legal Centre is making wills more accessible to women through our new wills clinic, made possible by funding from the Notary Foundation of BC.
A recent survey of 500 BC residents found that 56% of those with families do not have an updated will. But what exactly is a will, and why is it important to have a current one?
A will is a legal document that explains how you want your property and affairs (called your estate) managed after you die. If you have children, it will also contain instructions for their care.
With a will, you can make sure that your property and possessions are given to the people you choose, so that the special people in your life can avoid lengthy, expensive court processes and conflict over your estate. If you have a will, you should review it every few years to ensure that it remains accurate.
At Rise Women’s Legal Centre, we are fortunate this term to have lawyers and notaries volunteering their time to draft wills and other important end-of-life documents for women who would otherwise be unable to afford them.
Kim Hawkins, the Executive Director at Rise notes that wills can provide peace of mind for mothers with dependent children. “We’re thrilled to be able to expand our services by offering wills-drafting at Rise,” she commented.
“In her will, a single mother is able to name a guardian to take care of her children if she passes away unexpectedly,” says Monique Shebbeare, a Vancouver wills and estates lawyer currently volunteering at Rise. “She can also plan for her children’s financial security, and if she has not yet done so, estate planning gives her an opportunity to consider a life insurance policy that will benefit her children.”
Why then are many people without a will? Shebbeare explains that cost can be a barrier, as can misconceptions and a lack of information.
“Some people may believe that only the elderly or wealthy need to think about making a will,” says Shebbeare, “but wills are actually useful for parents of all ages and backgrounds. If there’s an important change in someone’s life, such as getting married, separated or divorced, having a child, or moving out of province, it’s a good time to revisit your will.”
Women who are interested in the wills clinic can call or email Rise.