You need a Will to provide directions on your behalf once you have passed away. Most Wills include directions on the following:
- Who you want to appoint as executor and trustee of your Estate;
- Who you wish to appoint as legal decision-maker for any minor children; and
- How you want your Estate to be distributed.
While everyone's specific family and property circumstances will differ, anyone who does not have a valid Will when they pass away is deemed to have died intestate. If you die intestate in Saskatchewan, then the law will dictate who can apply to administer your Estate, who will become the legal decision-makers of your minor children, and how your Estate will be distributed. You may not want your Estate administered or distributed the way the law dictates.
The Administration of Estates Act will direct who can apply to be the administrator of your Estate. Your spouse will have priority to apply, followed by any children over 18 years of age, then any grandchildren, and then your parents. The list continues until there is no next of kin and then priority passes to your creditors and lastly, the Public Guardian and Trustee. A person applying to be the administrator of your Estate in order to direct your Estate affairs will need to apply to the Court with a bond or obtain the consent of all creditors of your Estate to apply without a bond. Until someone is appointed as the administrator for your Estate, it is unlikely that financial institutions and other service providers (such as utility companies or internet providers) will accept any instructions on behalf of the Estate. Applying for letters of administration is generally a more costly and time-consuming process than probating a Will.
If both you and your children's other legal decision-maker (normally, the other parent) have died without a Will appointing a legal decision-maker for your minor children, then the government's Public Guardian and Trustee will become responsible for your children's financial and legal affairs. Other family members must apply to and be approved by the Court if they want to become the legal decision-maker for your minor children. If your Will appoints a legal decision-maker or guardian for your minor children, they will automatically become the legal decision-maker for your minor children when you pass away.
The Intestate Succession Act, 2019, specifies exactly how your Estate will be distributed if you do not have a valid Will. If you have a spouse, but no children, then your spouse will receive your entire Estate. If you have a spouse and all of your children with that spouse, then your spouse will receive your entire Estate. Determining who shares in your Estate becomes more complicated if you have children from another relationship or if you do not have a spouse or children. The Act does not permit any part of your Estate to be donated to charity, friends, or other potential beneficiaries you may wish to gift to.
Having a Will can reduce the cost, delay, and stress associated with your Estate after you pass away. If you do not have a Will, please contact one of the lawyers on our Estate Planning team to get started!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.