Wills are the centrepiece to every estate plan and are crucial to establish your wishes for after you have passed. Despite the level of your assets a Will can be instrumental to ensuring your assets are distributed according to your terms and make dealing with your estate much more straightforward for the loved ones who are left to deal with your estate. Without a Will, or with a poorly drafted Will you could end up having assets left to people other than those you wished to benefit or have a Will that is found to be invalid.
The role of a notary in preparing your Will is two-fold: to discuss your desired objectives of your estate plan so that we can draft that plan while taking into account possible legal issues and making recommendations to ensure that your wishes are achievable or offering solutions to ensure that the plan you have set out will be enforceable.
In setting up your Will we will have a preliminary fact-finding discussion to discover your ideal plan and to identify potential solutions and how to solve them. This meeting typically takes 1 – 1.5 hours. After this meeting we will draft the Will and have you return to our office to review the final document and sign it. We typically take 2 weeks to complete a Will, however, please notify us if you have a specific date that it needs to be completed by and we can typically accommodate this.
What we will need to prepare your will:
- Full legal name (including middle names and aliases) and address for yourself, executor, and beneficiaries
- Items or specific sums of money you wish to leave to individuals or charities
- How you want to distribute the balance of your estate (referred to as the residue)
- If a beneficiary should predecease you, indicate who you would like to receive that portion
- If a minor child is a potential beneficiary, indicate who the trustee and guardian will be for the child
- If you have a child who is receiving disability benefits please discuss this with us as there are ways to protect that child’s inheritance
- Information on burial, cremation, pre-arranged plans or requests.
- A brief description of your assets
- Information about registered assets such as private aircraft, pleasure craft and corporations if you have a large amount of AIRMILE points or other assets
Choosing the Executor
The executor is responsible for administering your estate, arranging your funeral, proving the Will, liquidating the estate, paying debts, settling your income tax, accounting to the beneficiaries and, finally, distributing the assets as set out in the Will.
Choosing the right executor is a critical decision. Your executor must keep accurate records and act in a timely and even-handed manner. The executor should be available for an extended period of time as the average estate takes 1 year to finalize. Be sure to discuss this responsibility with your potential executor as it is a time consuming job. An independent executor can often resolve conflicts among siblings or disappointed relatives. Some people choose a notary, accountant or trust company if they do not have family close by or they suspect there may be a family conflict of interest.
An executor is entitled to be paid up to 5% of the gross value of your estate, depending on the complexity. However, you can stipulate a specific amount in the will instead. If you are interested in having us act as your Executor or alternate Executor, please call to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs.
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