begbert2, it’s still a good idea to make up a will, even if it’s a very simple one and you don’t have much in the way of assets.
We do have wills but we need to revisit them. At the time we drew them up (20+ years ago), we had half our assets going to a special needs trust for our son (who had been diagnosed with autism), and the other half going to a regular trust for our daughter. We need to revise that so that hers also goes to a special needs trust.
We also need to make provision for a condo we own in Florida, to set up a “life estate” (or whatever it’s called) so the in-laws have a place to live for as long as they need it. I think if we both croaked right now it would simply get lumped in with the rest of our assets, and distributed to the two trusts, and that would be a hassle. We don’t want to leave the place to them - as if they ever go into a government-funded nursing home, the place would have to be sold to reimburse the government for their care, and it’s OUR money, doggonit.
FinsToTheLeft: what you describe with your father and his house would be a bad idea, in the US, for tax purposes - as the people he deeded it to would inherit his basis in the place. If he paid 100,000, and the house was worth 500,000 when the family members sold it, they’d have capital gains on 400,000 worth of income. Whereas if they inherited it from him when he died, their basis would be the full 500,000. Certainly there could be inheritance tax concerns - so anyone thinking of deeding a house to the family would need to consult with a professional to decide whether that was in fact the best thing to do.
Some people do give away their primary residence without thinking of that - and of course there’s the mess if the person then needs to go into a Medicaid-funded nursing home within the next couple of years.
Certainly the laws in Canada would be very different - I have no idea what happens (like you mentioned the capital gains - he’d have to pay taxes when he gives it away??).