4 Reasons You Need A Will As A Homeowner
You’ve signed on the dotted lines and finally picked up your keys! Purchasing a new home is a huge milestone and can be super exciting.
You’re unpacking everything you own into your new home, and suddenly wonder, “what happens to my home if I pass away?” We’re not trying to rain on your parade, but you’re actually not alone! 1 in 4 Canadians don’t know what would happen to their home if they pass away.
The answer to your question isn’t quite that simple and depends on another question. Do you have a will?
Whether this is your first home or your tenth, a will is one of the most important documents you can have when it comes to protecting your investment. In this article, we’ll cover four reasons why you need a will as a homeowner.
1. Decide who gets your home if you pass away
Your last will and testament is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you’d like to divide your estate (everything that you own) when you pass away. This includes your home and property, and any other assets you may own. Making a will helps ensure that your new home ends up in the right hands if you pass away.
Even if you’ve owned your home for decades, it’s likely one of your largest and most expensive assets. Yet, 49% of Canadian homeowners don’t have an up-to-date will.
If you die without a will (also known as dying intestate), your property is distributed according to the laws in your province. For example, if you don’t make a will in Ontario, your estate (including your home) is distributed according to the Succession Law Reform Act.
It’s also important to know how you own your home can have tax implications and affect your property in your will. For example, with some types of joint ownership, the property would pass directly to the surviving owner, so you may not legally be able to gift your portion of the property in your will.
2. Be certain your loved ones are protected
Without a will, your property and loved ones can be left vulnerable. Many important relationships in your life may be ignored if you die intestate. Common-law partners and other dependents are often left out of provincial formulas for distributing estates, which can result in them not being able to benefit from your estate or property (even if they’ve lived in it!). For example, in Quebec, common-law spouses aren’t entitled to anything if you die without a will.
Many Canadians also tend to avoid making a will with the fear of passing on debt to their loved ones. The good news is that in Canada, you can’t pass on your debt to your beneficiaries. But this doesn’t mean that your mortgage disappears when you die.
The mortgage actually stays with the property, not the person. So, if you own the property on your own, your executor will use your estate to pay off the mortgage when you pass away before distributing gifts to beneficiaries. A property and mortgage that is jointly owned will transfer to the other person who owns the property.
3. Make sure your property is taken care of
While it’s not specifically part of your last will and testament, a power of attorney document is also a key part of estate planning and particularly important for homeowners. A power of attorney comes into effect if you’re still alive but medically incapacitated.
When you appoint a power of attorney for property (also known as an enduring power of attorney), they have the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf regarding your home and property. For example, this person can help arrange for maintenance, pay your mortgage, and even help sell your home if necessary.
A POA is key in protecting your home – and a simple way to make sure you don’t miss payments and it doesn’t fall into a state of disarray. If you don’t appoint a legal power of attorney, a family member or friend will need to apply to the court to be your power of attorney. This can take some time and may result in missing deadlines.
4. Enjoy peace of mind
Decorating your new home might be a tad more fun than making a will, but we promise you’ll enjoy it a little extra with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home (and everything in it!) are protected.
A will is one of the simplest ways to protect your home and loved ones. For that reason, it should be one of your top priorities when purchasing a home! If you already have a will, moving is also a great time to make your updates!
We know that estate planning can feel overwhelming. The good news is, peace of mind is closer than you think. Making a will doesn’t need to be complicated.
Online estate companies, like Willful, make it easy to create your will and POA documents in less than 20 minutes – all from the comfort of your new home! Willful is also offering an exclusive discount just for Justo clients. Use the code JUSTO for $20 OFF any Willful plan.