Why it's smart to make a will even if you're still healthy
(NC)—Although we may contemplate it from time to time, most of us don't think seriously about preparing a will. But a will is probably the most important document we will ever write, and there's no time like the present to write a will and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having it done. 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 may end up costing more money for the people you wished to benefit with your estate.
Wills are governed by provincial legislation which can change. You may also not be an expert on the ins and outs of taxation and how to reduce what will need to be paid. One unclear sentence or phrase could put your will into legal limbo for a very long time.
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 the cost of preparing your will.
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—and this may include some people that you had no intention of remembering.
The process is generally costlier in terms of both administrative expenses and lost tax advantages—leaving much less than you may have intended for your chosen beneficiaries. And 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 to file a final income tax return. As well, the executor is responsible for preserving your assets until they can be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries of your estate.
Once all the financial obligations have been met, and a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency has been obtained to prove there is no claim for unpaid taxes, 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, 1992 Yonge Street, Suite #310, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1Z7.
Word count: 509
Articles are provided free of charge. Articles appearing on web sites, must credit www.newscanada.com. Articles appearing in Print, must credit News Canada with (NC) at beginning of an article or – News Canada at the end. Any source/sponsor of the information quoted in the text must also be identified as presented. Images are only to be used with corresponding editorial copy. Usage of News Canada articles constitutes your acceptance of these terms and an agreement between you and News Canada.