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Why every Canadian woman should have her own will

(NC)—Making a will is a sensible and worthwhile task for everyone, regardless of age and financial status. There are, however, some special reasons why women in particular should have one, as follows:

•Women usually live longer than their husbands, so it's a good idea for each person to have their own will.

• Planning for children or other dependants is something that women usually want to pay special attention to.

• Taxes and legal concerns (especially if there was a previous marriage or other dependants) should be looked at.

• Many women will want to make special arrangements for the distribution of family heirlooms, jewellery, items of historical or sentimental value, and their own property.

• Continuing the support for charities and organizations that many women supported during their lifetimes may be a consideration.

A will lets you decide

With a properly prepared will, you can ensure that:

• Property will be distributed exactly as you would have wished;

• You can name your own executor to administer your estate;

• Guardians of children will be named in the way you want;

• Personal items such as jewellery and antiques will be handled the way you intend;

• Individuals, your church, health charities and organizations like the United Way and Amnesty International will receive the support you had always intended for them.

How do I start?

If you do not have a will, now is the time to prepare one. While a will does not need to be a complicated document, it is always advisable to contact a lawyer or trust company to help you. The peace of mind which comes from ensuring that there are no small mistakes or omissions which could cause difficulties for your heirs is well worth the costs of such services.

Can I change my will?

Yes, you can always change your will, either completely or by means of a codicil, which is a document that adds to or alters your existing will. You should seek legal advice to do this as requirements vary from province to province.

Should I leave money to a good cause?

Always take care of your loved ones first, but then consider if there are organizations and causes you'd also like to support with your estate. The tradition of leaving money to charities that benefit society and your community is many centuries old. Today, people at all income levels support organizations like the Cancer Society or Amnesty International through their wills. These bequests are a vital source of funds for the organizations and the support stands as a lasting memorial to the donor. For individuals who feel that they cannot afford to make a large donation to a cause they support during their lifetime, a bequest in a will can be a good way to make a lasting contribution.

A free information package on this topic is available from Amnesty International at 312 Laurier Avenue East, Suite #214, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1H9.

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