A Last Will and Testament is a legal document recognized by the courts, which allows you to dictate how your assets will be divided after you die.
Why Make a Last Will & Testament?
A Last Will & Testament is necessary if you have assets and/or properties that you wish to distribute personally when they pass away.
A will is not just for seniors, Everyone needs a will specifying who gets what and how their assets will be divided. If you do not make a will a judge in the probate court will decide for you. Your estate could even end up being turned over to the government.
You can change, update or revoke a will at any time if your circumstances change.
Other Reasons to create a Will
Your marital status changes. You get married, your current spouse dies, have children, or separate from a spouse.
Have assets, such as investments, savings, etc., that you wish to distribute to certain individuals or charities.
Own property and wish to leave it to specific beneficiaries.
If you own a business (or shares in one) you need to specify what is done with it. Do you want it sold or taken over by someone or what?
If there are significant changes in your life or assets, you should always update or replace your will.
What Should My Will Cover?
Your will should name a guardian for your kids,
Specify what will happen to your worldly goods
Name an executor and a backup to carry out those instructions.
If you have pets, name a pet caregiver who is willing to take on your pets.
Do you want to dole out money to your kids at 18 and 25? Say how much, and when in your will. Be very clear to avoid errors and anger.
Specify who will receive your personal and household effects.
You should also have a durable power of attorney for property (so someone can manage your bills, finances and such if you are unable to).
You also need a living will, which details your desires regarding their medical treatment when they are unable to make their wishes known (e.g., if in a coma),
Be Clear About Care for Your Children
Specify how your estate will be administered for the benefit your minor children, including:
Who will act as trustee for minor beneficiaries
Whether funds can be paid either from income, principal or both, to minor beneficiaries prior to their age of majority
Whether monies can be paid to guardian of a minor beneficiary for the benefit of the minor children
At what age a minor beneficiary will be entitled to his or her share of your estate, either in installments or one time lump sum. Remember that young adults may squander your money if they are too young to deal with it responsibly.
Answers to common questions about making a will, estate planning, executors, probate and more
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Decide What to Include in Your Will
Make a list of your significant assets and their location.
Each Spouse Must Make a Separate Will
Keep in mind that if you're legally married, each spouse makes a separate will. You can leave only your share of assets you own jointly with your spouse. For example, you probably only own half of your house. Your spouse owns the other half.
Decide Who Will Inherit Your Property
For most people, it isn't hard to decide who gets what.
If a beneficiary dies before you do, you should probably make a new will.
Choose an Executor to Handle Your Estate.
Every will must name someone to serve as executor, to carry out the terms of the will. Be sure that the person you have in mind is willing to serve -- the job shouldn't come as a surprise. Being an executor is time consuming and probably thankless. Executors are paid out of the estate.
Choose a Guardian For Your Children.
If your children are under 18, decide who you want to raise them in the very unlikely event that you and their other parent can't.
Choose someone to manage children's property.
If you leave property to children or young adults, you should choose an adult to manage whatever they inherit.
Make Your Will
If you've organized your information and made decisions about what you want to do with your estate you can easily make your will in around 20 minutes CanLaw's legal kit.
Sign Your Will in Front of Two Witnesses.
After creating a will, you must sign it in the presence of two independent witnesses. Independent means they are not beneficiaries to your estate. Make certain they can be located after your death if any dispute arises. Print their names and addresses under their signature.
Store Your Will Safely Where It Can Be Found
It is very important that you tell your executor where your original will (not a copy, the actual original document) is and how to get access to it when the time comes. If it cannot be found, it does not exist.
Keep your will in a safety deposit box or at home in a file cabinet, freezer or fire-proof lock box.
Beware of online or free or cheap legal forms.
They will be rejected by the courts and laughed at by lawyers and judges.
Free online forms are not free. They charge you for storage.
Wills stored on line are not valid or original documents and will not stand up in a dispute. Many are American and worthless in Canada.
Canadian lawyers charge about $400 to have their secretary prepare your simple Will using standard software virtually identical to a CanLaw will kit. Why pay them $400? when you can write your will for $55. using our kit and save $350.00
Most people do not need a lawyer to make a will, durable power of attorney or living will.
But for the vast majority of people, it is very simple to make a will which legally document one's wishes, without paying exorbitant rates for legal advice using the CanLaw Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, and Living Will forms.
Be sure your loved ones inherit without problems Make a will today
It is very important that you have a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Living Will to protect your family, your estate and to avoid huge legal problems after you die.
The legal profession has a very lucrative interest in making wills, trusts and estate planning matters as complicated as possible.
That said, people with large estates, business interests, or complicated family situations, should seek legal advice from an estates lawyer.
QUICK FACTS YOU SHOULD BE KNOW
Testate Succession (with a will)
You may deal with your affairs on your death in whatever manner you consider best.
An Executor is the person who the Testator or Testatrix has designated to administer their wishes in terms of how the estate will be divided.
You may have more than one executor, and you should have an alternate personal representative should anything keep your first choice from being able to carry out your estate plans.
What Does An Executor Actually Do?
While the responsibilities of an executor or administrator may vary as needed, the basic duties include:
Completing an inventory and a valuation of all assets and debts
Gathering names and addresses of all beneficiaries and next-of-kin
Canceling subscriptions and charge cards, redirecting mail and winding up all other personal matters
Taking control of all assets, including the transfer of ownership registrations and the collection of any debts owed to the estate
Paying all valid or proven debts left to the estate (the executor or administrator may be held personally liable for these debts if a valid creditor remains unpaid after the distribution of the estate)
Filing tax returns for the deceased and for the estate
Selling assets as necessary and distributing the estate
Preparing and obtaining approval from the beneficiaries, heirs-at-law or the court for accounts showing assets, receipts, disbursements, and distribution of the estate
Parties to Your Last Will & Testament
There are several different parties in a Last Will & Testament, and each has a different role.
Testator/Testatrix: You are the Testator or Testatrix, which is just the legal term for the person that the Will is being created for and whose property will be distributed once you are deceased.
Beneficiary: A beneficiary is a person (or charity) who will receive some or all of your estate. You may name multiple beneficiaries and divide your assets as you see fit.
Pet Caretaker: A pet caretaker is someone you would name to care for your pet(s) when you die.
When considering who should be your executor or pet caretaker, ensure that it is someone who is capable, reliable, trustworthy and someone who can handle the managing of your affairs or caring for your pets after you pass away.
Because there is a great deal of work involved be sure to get the agreement of both your executor and pet caretaker to ensure that they are willing and able to act for you. You cannot impose the role on anyone who does not want it.
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