B.C.’s Ministry of Justice is calling on people under age 40 in the province to prepare a will in order to ensure that they have control over how their assets are distributed, and to maximize tax efficiency.

B.C. Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says that it is zeroing in on the younger generation in its push for people to prepare a will. The government reports that a poll conducted for the Society of Notaries Public of B.C. found that 45% of adults in the province do not have a current will, and 80% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 don’t yet have a will.

Most people do eventually get around to creating a will. For those over age 55, only 17% don’t have a will, the government says. However, it stresses that younger people should be preparing a will, as many important life events occur at these ages, such as buying a house, starting a business, getting married and having a family. “All these events should signal the need for a will,” it says.

“No matter what stage of life you find yourself in – you need a will. A will is one of the most important documents you will create in your lifetime,” says Anton.

Without a will, people that die are deemed to have died “intestate”, and their assets will be distributed in accordance with provincial legislation in this area. And, default rules are applied to divide money between spouses and children.

“A will is the best way to ensure that the people, charities or non-profit organizations you care about receive the benefit of your estate. A professionally planned estate can eliminate or reduce stress, taxes and conflict for loved ones,” says Alex Shorten, president, Canadian Bar Association, B.C. branch.

Legislation adopted last year has simplified the process of making a will in B.C., and it lowered the minimum age from 19 to 16, the government notes.

Those that already do have a will should consider revising it every five years, or more often, if significant changes occur in their life, finances, health or family situation, the government suggests.