As we are all experiencing, a global pandemic can provoke intense anxiety. We may wonder: What if I get sick? Am I prepared, just in case? Having an up-to-date Will may help you find some peace of mind.
Your Will helps define your current situation, your goals and how your assets will be transferred upon your death. Understanding the process may help you to get started. Below are 10 steps to consider if you are preparing or updating your Will.
Answer these three questions in advance of preparing your Will and other estate documents. If you have one, you might want to ask your financial advisor to walk you through this step.
- Who is important to you?
- What do you own?
- How do you own it?
Consider connecting with an estate and trust specialist to answer the many questions you will undoubtedly have about the process. We work with Canadians to ensure you have the documents you need to have peace of mind during these difficult times, such as Wills, powers of attorney for property and personal care, and whether establishing a trust for your loved ones is the right approach for you.
Determine your estate beneficiaries. It may be your spouse/common-law partner, children, other family members, friends and/or charities. What will each beneficiary receive? Will the beneficiary receive their inheritance immediately or at some point in the future?
Prepare a financial inventory. Record the value and location of your assets. Do you own your assets solely, jointly with another person such as a spouse or common-law partner, or as tenants-in-common? Create a list of where to find important personal documents to assist your executor. We have documents to make the process easier for you and we encourage you to download our Planning Your Estate booklet.
Decide who will be the executor. Administering an estate while grieving can be a difficult experience. Dealing with complicated duties, probate matters, claims and debts can be overwhelming. Naming a family member or friend may not be the best option. As well, the challenges of the current social distancing may make it more difficult for an individual to deal with financial institutions, Land Titles Offices and other entities. We’re adept at, and have experience working virtually with these organizations.
Select an appropriate guardian(s) for minor children and determine who will be trustee of the trusts you establish for them. These trusts are generally long-term in nature so consider whether an individual(s) or a trust company is best suited to administer the trust.
Check that the designations of beneficiary on insurance policies and registered plans matches the distribution scheme in your estate plan. Call your insurance broker or financial advisor to verify this information.
Once the above steps are completed, you will meet with a reputable estates and trusts lawyer to draft your Will. Because of social distancing, law firms across the country are coming up with creative solutions to ensure your estate documents can be prepared and executed. Our partners at Concentra Trust has relationships with lawyers nationwide and we’d be happy to provide you with their contact information. Estate lawyers aren’t as expensive as people think and the cost of an error in an improperly drafted or executed Will far exceeds the cost of a lawyer.
After your lawyer provides you with the draft, please read your Will and have the lawyer explain any clauses that are unclear or confusing. Where a trust company is named as executor/attorney/ trustee, we offer a review of the documents and use our extensive experience in administering estates, powers of attorney and trusts to identify any potential challenges to achieving your goals. Once the draft Will is approved, your lawyer will ensure your Will is signed in the manner required by law. Some provinces have put temporary measures in place to ensure that wills can be signed with a lawyer while still practicing social distancing.
Store your Will in a safe location. Concentra Trust offers complimentary safe storage for Wills and other estate documents where it has been named in some capacity.