Although we may contemplate it from time to time, most of us don’t think seriously about preparing a will. But it may be the most important document you will ever write, and there’s no time like the present to get it done and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it. Here are a few guidelines:
Should I consult a lawyer? Some people try to save money by drafting a will on their own. While completing a ready-made will that can be purchased for a few dollars may seem appealing, it can end up costing more money for the people you wished to benefit with your estate.
The cost of having a professionally-drafted will is far less than most people realize. You can also save money by making sure you are organized and ready before seeing the lawyer by creating a record of your important documents and the names of your immediate family, executor and beneficiaries. The less time you spend with the lawyer, the lower your cost will be.
What will happen if I don’t have a will? If you don’t have a will, the court appoints an administrator to manage your estate. Provincial legislation will determine who your beneficiaries will be. This means some of the bequests you had always intended to make, such as to your church, your favourite health charity or organizations like Amnesty International that you supported in your lifetime, would be ignored.
What is an executor? An executor is the person you choose who will be responsible for using your assets as needed to pay any outstanding debts and file a final income tax return. Once all the financial obligations have been met and a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency has been obtained, the executor can then distribute the remainder of your assets according to your wishes.
Who can be an executor? Any adult can be an executor, including one or more of the following: your spouse, a family member, a friend, a trust company or a lawyer. The important thing is to choose someone who is both capable and willing to take on the responsibility of handling your estate.
A free information package on wills can be received by writing to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Ave E, #315, Ottawa ON, K1N 1H9.