Why Do I Need a Will? Part 2 of 3

Preparing your will

It is generally recommended that you retain the services of an experienced lawyer when preparing a will. Wills must satisfy certain technical requirements and it is very important to anticipate and provide for all possibilities. If a court does not agree with the way you have prepared your will, or if parts of it are unclear, it may be declared invalid.

Preparing a will involves several steps:

1. Make a list of your assets. Include your home, car, cottage, business interests, life insurance, investments. etc. You’ll need to review the ownership of these assets. Do you own them solely or jointly? For life insurance policies or registered plans (such as RRSPs or RRIFs). Is there a beneficiary named within the contract?

2. Consider how your estate will be divided and who will get what. If done properly, this should include an estimate as to the size of your estate and the taxes owing on your death.

3. Choose an administrator (executor) of your estate. The executor has to protect and administer your estate in a prudent and responsible manner. This person should be trustworthy and willing and able to assume such a responsibility. Naming an alternative executor in case the first one is unable or unwilling to do the job is usually a good idea.

4. Decide who you want to take care of your children should you and your spouse pass away. When deciding whom to select, keep in mind the age of the guardian(s), their health and their ability to care for your children. It is recommended that you speak to those you are considering to confirm they are willing to accept this responsibility. It’s also a good idea to name back-ups 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 in the best interest of the child(ren); however, the parents’ wishes usually play a significant part in the courts’ decision.

5. Set out any instructions or wishes for your funeral arrangements. You can outline how your
funeral arrangements are to be handled or any other special instructions.