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The importance of having a will

WATCH: Have you made a will? If the answer is no, you're not alone. But it is important. Our consumer reporter Anne Drewa explains.

You are never too young to make a will and not having one could prove costly, legal experts say.

“If you don’t have a will you are now dependent on provincial legislation and it actually sets out the distribution of the estate, so what could really go wrong is you take a couple with children, both parents pass away and at 19 [years of age] the children will inherit the estate,” says lawyer Richard Bell from Bell Alliance. “You want a trustee who can help manage those funds.”

Bell said when it comes to making a will you want to ensure there is a guardian for children so they don’t have control of the funds until they are much older.

A will is also the best way to ensure people, charities and organizations that are important to you benefit from your estate. It can also help those close to you avoid higher legal costs to administer your estate.

“When people are doing their wills they should also make sure they are getting their power of attorney done and their representation agreement,” Bell said.

Power of attorney will assist you when you can no longer manage your own finances, while a representation agreement will determine who will make heath care decisions for you when you are unable to do so.

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“You may also want to register your representation agreement with a not-for-profit called Nidus. Police and healthcare workers have access to that database. If you get hit by a bus and you are unconscious in hospital, how does the hospital know who it should be phoning? So everyone should be registering their representation agreement with Nidus,” Bell said.

According to a 2014 BC Notaries report, only 55 per cent of British Columbians have an up-to-date will. It’s recommended people review their wills every 10 years.