Along with determining the guardianship of any minors and laying out funeral arrangements, one of the major functions of a will is determining what will be done with your estate. Giving gifts in a will means that your money, stocks and bonds, possessions, and any other assets are distributed according to your wishes, rather than being divided according to British Columbia law.
- Family Members
Perhaps the most obvious recipients of gifts in a will are family members and close friends. If there are multiple people you would like to include as beneficiaries in your will, you’ll have to decide who will be gifted what and how any shared assets will be distributed.
For example, if you have two properties and specifically would like your son to receive the cabin on Gabriola Island and your daughter to receive your main residence in Coquitlam, you must clearly state this.
In addition to family members, you can gift money or a specific object—such as real estate—to a charity. You can also name several charities in your will, and decide how much you would like each one to receive.
Keep in mind that if your family members feel they were not given a fair share of your estate, gifts to charity can be contested. As such, leaving all or most of your estate to charity can result in lengthy legal entanglements. If you would like to give a substantial part of your estate to charity, a wills, estates, and trusts lawyer will advise on the possibilities of contestation and how to ensure your will is airtight.
Another approach to considering gifts in a will is to create a scholarship—the gift that keeps on giving. Setting up a scholarship at an institution can be a complicated process, so engaging the services of a wills, estates, and trusts lawyer is essential if you decide this is the sort of legacy you would like to leave.