The Importance of Keeping Your Will Updated

Kevin Marshall

August 4, 2022

Why update your Last Will and Testament, after you’ve executed and safely stored it?

Because circumstances change - and time may not be on your side:  If you wait until your health declines, it may be too late to change your Will (since you would be deemed incapable of providing instructions). When you die, it will definitely be too late.

When updating your Will, you can choose to make a whole new Last Will and Testament (which revokes the earlier version), or you can make a Codicil to your Last Will and Testament, that replaces specific paragraphs only, and leaves the rest of the Will intact.

Here are some of the reasons that necessitate updating your wishes in your Will:

  1. You get married or divorced or become involved in a common-law relationship. In the divorce situation, it is particularly important to make your wishes clear, especially if your former spouse or partner is named as trustee and/or beneficiary.  
  2. You adopt or have more children than were named in your earlier Will.  Ideally your Will would make provide to include bequests to any children born in the future, but if you wish to name certain children or bequeath certain items to certain children, you do need to update your Will.
  3. You have new grandchildren or other new family members whom you wish to name in your Will (or name other new beneficiaries).
  4. You have bought new real property (real estate, for example, bought a matrimonial home after signing your Will, when you were renting your home, or investment property)
  5. Your trustees whom you named in your Will are no longer able to assist you, for whatever reason, for example:

               a. They have passed away before you died. (We urge our clients to name trustees who are younger than our clients.)

               b. They have, unfortunately, become incapacitated themselves, and therefore they are no longer able to act for you.

               c. They have moved to a different country. While virtual meetings and remote digital signing are possible, the task of executor or executrix might become very expensive and difficult for them (and therefore your estate).

               d. They are no longer on good terms with you, such that you no longer trust them to carry out your wishes.

               e. They have new responsibilities of family care or financial difficulties that would make their trustee role burdensome.

We also remind you to keep your life insurance policies up to date, with respect to your named beneficiary or beneficiaries.  If you have not named any person or charity as beneficiary, the death benefit will be paid to your Estate upon your death, subject to estate administration tax, which therefore reduces the payout value of your policy.

Every person’s situation is unique and change is inevitable. Rather than procrastinate on this issue, please keep control over your affairs while you are still capable of granting power of attorney and making your Will or Codicil. For your convenience, we offer Will and Powers of Attorney preparation services where all the steps can be completed virtually, except for the actual signing which must be done in person with an appointment. Call 416-383-0550 to get the process started today.