Every day, Canadians make important decisions that affect their life and the lives of those around them. Some of these decisions are made consciously, while others happen without much thought at all. Will planning helps individuals take control of their future. It gives them the opportunity to make thoughtful choices about their life path. The contents of this post serve as a will planning guide in Canada, including what a will is and what it can do for you. It also includes information on how to create a will. By taking the time to plan your will now, you can feel confident that your wishes of wealth will be carried out after your death.
Table of contents
- What is a will?
- How to create a will
- What should you not include in a will?
- What are the legal requirements for a will in Canada?
- Is it legal to write your own will in Canada?
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children. In other words, wills allow you to choose who will receive your wealth and how it should be distributed. A will appoints certain individuals of your choosing as a guardian to any minor children you care for. A will is an important document to create. It allows you to convey your final wishes in a clear and concise manner.
It’s a good idea to collaborate with an attorney when creating and updating your will. Those intentions may not be followed if you pass away without a will. In addition, nuances of the law may be misunderstood if you don’t receive advice from a qualified lawyer. Your family members may also spend more time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs after you’re gone without a proper will.
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An executor is a person charged with administering an estate according to the last will and testament of a deceased person. The primary responsibility of the executor is to carry out the instructions for managing the deceased’s affairs. If a will is in place, the executor will use the document to execute the deceased’s wishes. The executor is the person appointed by the testator of the will (the individual who makes the will). Or by a court, in cases where there was no prior appointment.
The executor of a will is responsible for ensuring all assets are accounted for and transferred to the appropriate individuals. Among others, assets can comprise of money market investments, stocks and bonds, real estate or direct investments like art collections. The executor must appraise the estate by using either the original value or an alternative valuation method.
The executor also needs to ensure all the debts of the deceased are paid off, including any taxes. They are legally obligated to meet the wishes of the deceased and act in their best interests. The executor can be anyone. It’s usually a lawyer, an accountant, or a family member who is over the age of 18 and does not have any prior felony convictions.
A will is something many of us delay drafting. Who wants to think about death and what will happen after? Alternately, we may believe that preparing a will implies giving up control of our possessions. People often put off writing a will because they are afraid of what it might mean for their loved ones. However, having a will in place can actually prevent some of the very fears you have. This is because a will is a clear plan on what will happen after you die, as opposed to leaving it all up to chance.
In reality, writing a will is perhaps the most important document you’ll ever produce. It allows you to choose who gets what you own when you pass away, designate an executor to settle any final affairs, name guardians for children, forgive debts, and more. Of course, thinking of these things can be distressing, but knowing you’ve put a plan in motion can ease your fears.
Lastly, you’ve worked hard to create wealth and value in your life. A will ensures your estate is managed how you want it to be once you pass. Without a will, the estate you built throughout your life may quickly vanish. Continue reading this will planning guide for Canada to ensure your wealth is protected.
How to create a will
Creating a will is a fairly easy and straightforward process. The hardest part is determining what you want to happen to your estate and other related matters once you pass. After that, it’s just a matter of putting it into writing. Continue reading to understand the creation process within our will planning guide in Canada.
When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important things you can do is take inventory of your assets. This includes not only your financial assets, such as savings and investments. But also your personal property, such as real estate, jewelry and art. You may also want to consider other assets that have sentimental value. Loved ones may want to take possession of these items since it has meaning to them in the form of an heirloom.
Documenting your assets will make it much easier for your loved ones to settle your estate after you’re gone. Furthermore, it can help to prevent disputes between family members over who should inherit what. If you don’t want to leave your assets up to chance, take the time to inventory them now.
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Now that you’re aware of all the assets you have to distribute, it’s time to determine how they will be allocated. Do you want to leave everything to your spouse? What about your children, other family members and close friends? Or perhaps you have a favorite charity that you would like to support with a lump sum payment upon death. It’s also important to think about any debts or costs that will need to be paid off after you pass. For example, a mortgage or funeral expenses.
The best way to determine how you want your assets to be allocated is to sit down and think about what is most important to you. Once you have a clear understanding of your priorities, you can start the process of drafting your will. Remember, you can always adjust and tweak your will later!
If you have minor children, it is important to make arrangements for their care in the event of your death. One way to do this is to name a desired guardian in your will. The guardian will be responsible for providing a home and care for your children until they reach the age of 18.
You should also appoint an executor, who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes as outlined in your will. The executor will need to be over the age of 18 and have a good understanding of financial matters. The person you choose to be your executor should be someone you trust as well. You should also consider naming a backup executor. Just in case the first executor is unable or unwilling to serve for whatever reason.
Finally, you should put all of your important documents, such as your birth certificate and marriage license, in a safe place where the executor can easily find them. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your children will be well taken care of if something happens to you.
Creating a will is not difficult, and there are many resources available to help you get started. You can also hire a lawyer to assist you with the process. The most important thing is to make sure that your wishes are clearly stated in the document. In addition, the most onerous process is determining the contents of a will. After that, actually writing one is fairly simple. Once you have created your will, be sure to keep it in a safe place where it can be easily accessed by your loved ones.
It’s not enough to simply write a will and then forget about it. Part of this will planning guide for Canada is routinely updating it, ideally on an annual basis. As your life circumstances change, you’ll need to update your will to reflect those changes. For example, if you get married or have children, you’ll need to make sure that your will reflects your new family situation. Additionally, if you acquire new assets or experience a change in financial circumstances, you should update your will accordingly.
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While it can be tempting to include everything in your will, there are some items that are better left off the list. For example, you should not include any business interests in your will. If you own a business, it should be transferred to your successor according to the terms of your partnership or operating agreement. This is completely separate from your personal affairs. Including business direction in your will may invalidate the document as a result.
Also, you should not include any personal wishes or desires in your will that don’t relate to your assets or estate. These items are purely personal and should not be part of a legal document. Instead, you can put them in a letter to your loved ones that accompanies your will.
Finally, you should never include anything in your will that you don’t want to go through probate. Probate is a legal process that can be time-consuming and expensive, so it’s best to avoid it if possible. Certain types of property, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, can be transferred outside of probate, so there’s no need to include them in your will.
If you are unsure of what to include in your will, consult with a lawyer to smooth over any uncertainties.
What are the legal requirements for a will in Canada?
Will planning guide in Canada legal requirements:
- The will must be written in a tangible form, such as on paper, rather than being kept digitally or electronically.
- You must be at least 18 years old and considered mentally competent. In some cases, people who are underage (such as those who have children or members of the armed forces) may also create a will.
- You need two witnesses who must physically see you sign the will (in typed format) and then sign their names in each others’ presence. Normally, all three of you had to be physically present in the same location; however, during the coronavirus emergency, rules have been eased in Ontario to permit witnessing by video link as long as one of the witnesses is a licensed lawyer or paralegal.
- A witness is not allowed to be named in a will, as doing so would render the bequest to them invalid.
- A notarized written statement may also be used as a legal will if you don’t have the presence of witnesses. It must be entirely in your own hand and signed by you.
- Your signature must be at the end of the will, no matter what type it is.
Depending on your unique circumstances, there may be other legal requirements that are out of the scope of this will planning guide for Canada. Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure of legality.
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Yes! In Canada, you may write your own will. There is no need to visit a lawyer or use a specific method of drafting your will. There are several options for creating a will yourself in Canada that are completely legal, including online wills, will kits, and even handwritten wills. In addition, this will planning guide for Canada is a starting point to drafting your will!
The cost of making a will in Canada varies depending on the complexity of your estate and the province in which you live. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to get an idea of how much it will cost.
For a simple will, you can expect to pay between $250 and $1,000. If your estate is more complex, you may need to hire a lawyer or other professional, which will increase the cost. In addition, if you have assets in multiple provinces, or internationally, you may need to create separate wills for each jurisdiction. The bottom line is that the cost of making a will in Canada depends on your individual circumstances.
Learn more: How Estate and Inheritance Taxes Work in Canada