Whenever I sit down with a new client and start to build out the file there is a question that get’s asked that always draws a few quizzical looks.
I always start with a new client by explaining my mission:
I am here to help you reconcile your relationship with God (your values) and Money (the value store) through Education and Empowerment. To teach you to live Debt Free, Build Wealth and Leave a Legacy.
I then say that in order for me to do that you first have to educate me about where things stand for you right now and what brought you to my conference room or the kitchen table in the first place. We then play a game of 20 questions (it’s actually a lot more than that depending on the answers) and question number 5 (or somewhere in the first few questions at least) is; Do you have a Will?
I’ve been doing this for a long time and I am continually shocked by the number of people, especially young people with debt out their ears and young families who say no. But the statistics don’t lie and they don’t discriminate across ages either. Money Magazine, a publication of Time Magazine, recently published the results of a survey which showed that over half of Americans between ages 55 and 64; the last ten years before traditional retirement age STILL haven’t made a will!
Although those are American numbers, statistics in Canada aren’t much different. With recent changes to the Ontario Probate system (and the continuing aging of our population) it has never been more critical for people to have a legal and enforceable will.
Most people don’t want to think about getting a will. I get it, it’s the same reason most people don’t want to think about buying Life Insurance; nobody wants to talk about death. But I am here to pour a little bit of cold water on your life and tell you flat out, you have too. Dyeing without a legal will, that everyone involved knows about and understands, is just rude! You’re not doing anyone any favors and the last memories people will have of you won’t be about love and honor or respect, they will be about how much work it was and how much it cost to clean up the mess you left behind.
For instance, In Ontario if you die intestate (i.e. without a will) the government will appoint a trustee to administer your estate. That trustee will usually be a law firm that specialized in this type of thing and charges the estate a hefty fee, all assets will be collected into an estate account, a large portion will be lost to tax, another large portion will be lost to legal fees and what is left, if anything will then be divided among your heirs as the judges and lawyers see fit. If your estate is quite small, or very large, this may not be a big deal but what about the care of your minor children? Or giving to your favorite charity? Do you really want to leave those decisions to a lawyer you have never met?
I’m not a lawyer. I am not qualified to give any advice on how to go about setting up a will or even on what to put in it. But it is my mission to educate and empower you to do the right thing when it comes to your estate.
So here it is, my best advice for anyone with any kind of debt, assets or family to protect. (And that is everyone if you’re paying attention.)
Ready? Here goes –
Everybody dies – get used to and get a will!
It’s the only way you can ensure that the legacy you are building will even happen, let alone last beyond your time on this earth.