worked hard all your life to provide the very best for your family,
friends and community. How do you ensure this will continue? The answer
is quite simple. Through a legal document — your will.
Some things to consider:
The time and cost of a lawyer-prepared will is
small compared with its benefits. A will avoids uncertainty, which can
lead to arguments among beneficiaries, delaying settlement of your
estate and increasing costs. You’ll also have peace of mind, knowing
your affairs are in order and your beneficiaries will not have to deal
with the courts to settle your affairs while they are grieving.
Put Family First
It’s possible that you and your partner could
die together. Only by appointing a guardian in a will can you specify
who will care for your children.
Your Good Intentions
If you do not make a will your good intentions
to provide for your friends, charities, religious institutions or
relatives mean nothing. The law dictates exactly how your assets are
divided among your family. Wills ensure your legally-binding wishes are
Canada no longer has estate or inheritance
taxes, but death triggers federal income taxes. A proper estate plan can
minimize taxes now and for your beneficiaries. Why not plan to pay less
Support a Charity
A bequest to your favorite charity continues your support and can reduce taxes.
Who’s In Charge?
Your estate trustee or executor is the person
named in your will to distribute your estate. An executor can be a
family member, a friend, lawyer or trust company, and there can be more
than one executor. Professional trustees can manage trust funds for the
financial security of spouses who lack financial expertise or a
Explaining legal concepts and preparing wills
to meet your estate needs are what lawyers do. Many people think that
they’ll save money by preparing their own will however, if imprecise
language is used, it may end up costing more money, in the long run,
because of interpretation problems.
Making a will gives you assurance that your affairs are
in order. Preparation of an estate plan includes powers of attorney to
deal with incapacity and personal care issues. Consider funeral
arrangements and organ donations too.
Revisit Your Will
Even though you have a will, marriage, separation,
divorce, or the birth of a child all mean your will must be revised.
Unless your will is current, it cannot reflect your needs. Changes in
your assets, beneficiaries, estate trustees, and the law require regular
reviews of your will and estate plan.
Don’t Lose It
Remember to keep a copy of your will at home and the
original in a safe place. Make sure someone knows where it is. What good
is a well-written will if no one ever finds it?
Olkovich is a lawyer & notary with offices in Toronto’s Bloor West
Village. Olkovich is an executive member of the Estates and Trusts
Section of the Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Branch.