Death is very sudden. And oftentimes when someone close to us passes away it’s a reminder that people can be here one day and gone the next. Because of how sudden death can be it’s important that you consider making a Will.
Creating a Will is not just for people who have terminal illnesses or are reaching the age of retirement. Creating a Will can allow you to better prepare for the future and ensure the fulfillment of your wishes after you pass.
A Will is can feel very permanent. What most people don't realize is that you can change it at any point during your lifetime. You can make adjustments based on changes in your assets and to add or subtract beneficiaries.
If you want to be prepared for the unknown and write your Last Will and Testament there're a few things you should consider.
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Why Do I Need a Will?
Death can be sudden and it is important that you layout plans for the future. That way you do not leave those grieving with questions and financials worries. Putting forethought into your passing can allow you to help others through the grieving process by releasing some stress that a Will can preemptively sort out.
Having a Will allows you to not only distribute what assets you have but also provide a list of wishes that you have.
By creating a will you can:
- distribute your property
- name your executor
- select your beneficiaries
- have a role in your children’s upbringing after your death
- lay out your final wishes
According to a Harris Interactive survey, 55% of people without a Will cite that they just “have not gotten around to it yet”. Another 26% of individuals think that it’s not urgent to create one. However, because death can be unexpected, it’s important that you make creating your Will a priority.
Steps in Making a Will
When you’re trying to map out every last thing that you would want to put in writing if you weren’t there to advocate for yourself, it can be overwhelming. Following the steps laid out below will make it easy for you.
Consider this your complete guide to making a will.
What to Include
One of the most universal reasons for creating a Will is to divide your assets among your beneficiaries. You will also want to include your wishes for funeral services, family matters, and even final words you want your loved ones to reflect upon once you are gone.
List of Assets
The first step is to decide what assets to include. These assets can be cash, investments, real estate, or even personal items. When creating your list of assets you want to consider anything that you fully own. If you own shared assets with a spouse of a business partner, you may pass on your share of those assets as well.
Division of Assets
When dividing up your assets you want to decide which assets will go to what specific beneficiary. If you so desire, you can divide a specific asset equally among multiple beneficiaries or according to a set percentage. If you were to leave an asset to someone who passes before you, you either need to update your Will or have set a contingency plan in your original Will.
Who to Include
Beneficiaries are the people and organizations you leave your assets to. When deciding who to include in your Will you want to think about who you care for in the long-term. Generally, you would want to include the family and friends that you care about. However, you can also list an organization or charity as a beneficiary of your Will.
Legacy for Your Children
If you have children and want them to inherit your assets after you pass you will need to put that in writing. Although, it may seem like the natural order of things, without formal paperwork your children may not be able to access any of your estate.
A Will allows you to remove any room for error by the courts when it comes to handling your estate and can ensure that you provide for your children. If you wrote your Will when you were a family of three and have had two more children, you will need to update your Will.
Executor & Guardian
You need to name an executor and a guardian. Outside of picking an executor to distribute your assets, you also assign who will be raising your children after your passing. It could be the same person if you so wish.
By granting someone guardian status they are going to be the individual with parental control and will be responsible for your children after your passing.
The executor in your will is legally responsible for handling your estate. Executors should unbiasedly carry out your wishes after your passing, this can be a beneficiary. You can also appoint multiple executors.
The role of executor is more than distributing assets. They are also tasked with securing assets after death, paying outstanding taxes and debts, and arranging the funeral in accordance with the will.
You want your executor to be someone you trust and who you are confident will fulfill your wishes as outlined in your will.
Some inheritance can be delayed to assure that assets are used for the specific purpose you had in mind and to avoid “grief spending”. For example, you may choose to delay a child's inheritance for a few years for college education purposes.
Conditional gifts are specific provisions that you can place into a Will. These provisions assure that assets will only be given out if a specific event occurs. Your executor will handle the distribution of these gifts, after whatever provision takes place.
You can set aside assets for your first-born grandchild until their 18th birthday. If this was a provision put into the Will, the grandchild’s parents would not be able to access the funds.
Conditional gifts allow you to set conditions and have a potential influence on how the money is used. The court will work to ensure that the Will-maker’s intent is honored as closely as possible.
Formalize Your Will
When writing your will you can enlist help from professionals or make your it yourself. It is important that you be as clear as possible in regard to your wishes so your executor and the court can fulfill your requests to the fullest. Once you have created a list of your assets and beneficiaries, you need to take these next steps to formalize your will.
Do It Yourself
By writing your will yourself you will need to look up the local laws and requirements to ensure that you fulfill the guidelines. Certain restrictions may apply that you need to keep in mind when drafting your will, these laws can change so be sure you are looking up current information.
If the idea of hitting the books on legal ordinances seems slightly overwhelming but you still want to make your Will by yourself you can use an online resource for Will creation. We recommend Epilogue Wills, it is an online service that allows you to create a Will in 20 minutes in accordance with your province's laws and regulations for only $139. After you're done, you only need to print it, and get it signed by yourself and two witnesses.
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Hire an Attorney
Many people chose to hire an attorney to make their estate plan. An attorney is able to work with you on the specific details of your assets and can provide personalized legal advice on how to best distribute your assets. This can be an expensive option, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Having a Will that expresses your wishes allows you to maintain a degree of control over your assets and to influence the lives of those you care about, even after your death. Don't wait on making your will, you never know when the unexpected can happen. Be prepared the best you can.