BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group

September 21, 2011 09:00 ET

REPEAT-BMO Study: Most Canadian Boomers Have A Will, But Do They Have a Way?

- Nine in ten Canadian Boomers have their wills prepared

- However, almost half have not updated them in the past ten years

- More than two-thirds have incorporated a Power of Attorney into their will

- Almost two-thirds of Boomers have spoken to their children about what's in their will

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2011) - BMO Financial Group today announced the results of a study revealing that most Canadian Boomers (aged 45+ with investable assets, including real estate, of over $500,000) have their act together when it comes to estate planning, with the overwhelming majority (85 per cent) having a will in place.

However, despite the existence of basic estate plans, the study also found that almost half of Canadians over 45 have not re-visited or updated their wills in 10 years, potentially leaving their original legacy goals in a precarious state.

"While it's very encouraging to see that a solid number of Canadian Boomers have a will in place, they should not underestimate the importance of updating their will on a regular basis," said Sara Plant, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Trust Company. "Over time, an individual's circumstances can shift, and they may encounter changes to wealth, marital status or the birth or death of a loved one. These changes can impact the estate and can result in an outcome that differs significantly from the deceased's original wishes."

The study, conducted by Leger Marketing, also examined what was driving Canadians to prepare a will. The top reasons included:

  • Ensuring their assets are distributed as they wished (36 per cent)
  • Avoiding family problems once they have passed away (34 per cent)
  • Protecting and looking after their family (28 per cent)

Those who have updated their wills were motivated to do so by the following:

  • A significant change in wealth (25 per cent)
  • A change in a beneficiary's marital status (21 per cent)
  • A death in the immediate family (11 per cent)
  • A birth in the immediate family (11 per cent)

Another critical component of estate planning is the preparation of a power of attorney, and 69 per cent of respondents who have a will also have a power of attorney. The overwhelming majority of these respondents indicated that they have a power of attorney for their finances (90 per cent), while 87 per cent have one in place to deal with potential issues arising from failing health.

Other Key Findings:

  • 62 per cent of Boomers have spoken to their children/beneficiaries about the contents in their will
  • The study found that respondents' wills addressed distribution of wealth (92 per cent), appointment of an executor (86 per cent) and distribution of personal items (47 per cent)
  • Of those Canadians who do not have a will in place (15 per cent), the main reason cited is lack of time (35 per cent)

"There is a common misconception that wills are only necessary for parents or those with a high-net worth. However, that's simply not the case," added Ms. Plant. "Regardless of one's marital or parental status, or level of wealth, having a will is an essential part of estate planning that allows an individual to design how their assets should be distributed."

If you do not have a will prepared yet, here are the top reasons why you should have one in place:

  • Distribution of assets – Having a will prepared ensures your assets are distributed in accordance to your wishes. Without a will in place, these decisions will be made by a court or the government.
  • Assigning guardianship – A will allows parents of minors to choose a guardian who will take care of their young children.
  • Appointing an executor – The settling of an estate can be a lengthy and complex matter, and it is best to choose ahead of time who will manage your estate.
  • Taxes and fees – Without a will in place and the planning that goes into it, the estate can be subject to unnecessary taxes and probate fees.

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing among 1002 Canadians, 45 years of age or older, who hold investible assets (including real estate) worth $500,000 or more, between July 6 to July 15, 2011.

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