Do not procrastinate getting your Will prepared.
Having a will helps facilitates the administration of your estate and can also help you save taxes. A clear communication of your intentions and allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed upon death.
What if you don't have a Will?
If you don't have a will you will be deemed to have died intestate. Ultimately the court will appoint someone to administer and distribute your estate according to the intestacy laws, regardless of what your wishes are.
Preparing your Will
1. Make a list of your assets
Include your home, car, cottage, business interests, life insurance, investments and etc. How are these assets owned - solely or jointly? For life insurance policies or registered plans is there a named beneficiary within the contract?
2. How will your estate be divided?
Who will get what? This should include an estimate of the size of your estate and the taxes owing upon your death.
3.Choose an Executor
An executor is who will administrate your estate in a prudent and responsible manner. This person should be trustworthy, willing and able to assume such responsibility. Having an alternative executor in case the first one is unable or unwilling to do the job is beneficial.
4. Incase should your spouse pass away also who will take care of your children?
When deciding whom to select, keep in mind the age of the guardian(s), their health and their ability to take care of your children. Speak to those you are considering to confirm they are willing to accept this responsibility. It's a good idea to name alternatives in case your first choice(s) can't or won't take on the responsibility when the time comes. Note that ultimately it is up to the courts to decide what is the best interest of the child(ren); however the parents wishes usually play an significant role in courts decision.
5. Funeral Arrangements
You can outline how your funeral arrangements are to be handled or any other special instructions.
Protecting you and your family
A will is a the foundation of an estate plan. Although you can simply hand write an entire will that is signed by you - an holographic will, they can be problematic if the instructions are not absolutely clear.
The goal of having a property drafted will is to ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones will be properly provided for in a tax efficient manner. So it is a good idea to have a will prepared by a lawyer who specializes in wills and estate planning.
Your will has been prepared - now what?
Once you have prepared your will, you should review it regularly perhaps every few years or whenever their is an significant event such as; marriage, divorce, birth, death, disability or a new business. Keep in mind that in most provinces a marriage revokes an existing will unless the will specifically contemplates the marriage. In addition, a will is revocable buy the person making the will and always has the ability to amend or revoke the will.