It's Make a Will Week in B.C. — do you have one?
Surveys conducted on behalf of the BC Notaries Association show about half of adults don't have a legal will.
However, that's slowly starting to change.
The most recent survey shows an increase in homeowners and parents of young children having the important document.
Make a Will Week encourages British Columbians to prepare a will and families to discuss plans in the event of a death.
A well-considered will provides peace of mind for the individual preparing it, as well as for family and friends left to execute their wishes, the association says.
"Anyone who has real estate or children should have a will," says notary David Watts. "Not having a will could leave children vulnerable to outside decision-makers and family conflict if something happens to the parents."
It appears that homeowners and parents of dependent children are starting to act on that message.
Data collected by Ipsos for BC Notaries last year shows an increase in homeowners having a current will, 64% versus 57% in 2018, and 49% of parents of children 18 or younger have a will, up from 34% in 2018.
Still, fewer than half of families with dependent children have a will in place. If the Public Guardian and Trustee is brought in to administer the estate, the province may then decide on the future of dependent children and assets.
"We know people care deeply about the well-being of their family, and so we urge British Columbians to get a will drawn up by a trusted professional," says notary Kristy Martin. "Don't wait until a crisis hits because it can be too late."
The association warns that do-it-yourself wills can often have unclear instructions that can result in conflict, or extending the probate period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a vivid reminder for a lot of people who had put off making a will. At the start of the pandemic, notaries received a significant increase in calls.