Preparing a will is an essential task that everyone should take seriously, regardless of their age or wealth. A will is a legal document outlining how a person’s assets will be distributed after death.
Without a will, the distribution of assets is determined by provincial law, which may not align with the deceased’s wishes. Therefore, it is crucial to have a will that reflects one’s desires and ensures that their loved ones are taken care of. This article will discuss the checklist for making a will in Canada.
1. Consult with a Family Lawyer
You should find an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer specializing in wills and estate law. Look for lawyers with a good track record and experience in preparing wills. You can ask for recommendations from friends and family or check online reviews and ratings.
Once you’ve found a lawyer you’d like to work with, you should make an appointment and bring any relevant documents, such as a list of assets and beneficiaries. The lawyer will use this information to draft a will that reflects your wishes.
The lawyer will also advise you on the best way to structure your will and any other strategies that may be beneficial. For example, they may suggest setting up trusts or other estate planning tools to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
2. Choose an Executor
The executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will. Choosing an executor is essential as this person should be trustworthy, organized, and capable of handling the responsibilities associated with executing the will. It is also crucial to have an alternate executor in case the primary executor is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties.
3. Create a List of Assets
Creating a list of asset divisions is the next step in preparing a will. This list should include all assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, insurance policies, and personal belongings. It is essential to keep this list up-to-date, especially if there are significant changes in one’s financial situation.
4. Determine Beneficiaries
After creating a list of assets, the next step is to determine who will inherit these assets. Beneficiaries can include family members, friends, charities, or other organizations. It is crucial to be specific about who will receive which assets, as this will help prevent disputes from arising after one’s death.
5. Appoint Guardians for Children
If one has children who are minors, it is essential to appoint guardians in the will. The guardians will be responsible for the children’s care and upbringing in the event of the parent’s death. It is also essential to discuss this decision with the potential guardians beforehand to ensure they are willing and able to take on this responsibility.
6. Consider Tax Implications
When preparing a will, it is important to consider tax implications. In Canada, an estate administration tax, or probate fee, is payable on the estate’s value. However, there are ways to minimize these fees, such as gifting assets before death or setting up a trust.
Consulting with a tax professional or wills and estates lawyer can help ensure the will is structured to minimize tax implications.
7. Include Funeral Arrangements
Funeral arrangements are often overlooked when preparing a will, but it is essential to include them. This includes outlining one’s wishes regarding burial or cremation and any specific requests for the funeral service.
8. Update Beneficiary Designations
In addition to preparing a will, it is essential to ensure that beneficiary designations are up-to-date. Beneficiary designations on insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets will override the instructions in a will. Therefore, it is crucial to review and update these designations regularly.
9. Store the Will Safely
Once the will is prepared, it is essential to store it safely. A will is a legal document; if it cannot be found after one’s death, it is as if the will was never created. It is recommended to store the will in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box and to inform the executor and trusted family members of its location.
10. Review and Update the Will Regularly
Finally, it is essential to review and update the will regularly. Life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, can impact the distribution of assets outlined in the will. Therefore, reviewing the will every few years or after significant life changes are recommended to ensure that it accurately reflects one’s wishes.
Preparing a will is an important task that should be considered. By preparing a will, one can ensure that their loved ones are taken care of and that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.
The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley families’ best interests are the priority for Dreyer and Associates. Although we have extensive experience in family law, wills and estates, and residential conveyancing, family law remains our main area of concentration. Schedule a consultation with a wills and estates lawyer today!