PURPOSE OF A WILL IS TO:
Administer and/or pass on assets that have not already been distributed
prior to death
Name the person (executor or executrix) or institution that will
I administer your affairs on death
Name a guardian (1)
for any minor children
Express any limits on the use of your assets
will is a crucial legal document provincial legislation dictates
who handles everything, who gets what, and who cares for your children.
ARE THREE TYPES OF WILLS:
Typed and signed by you in the presence of at least two witnesses
Witnesses cannot be your beneficiaries or their spouses
Typically drafted by lawyers to ensure your will is legally valid,
meets your needs and does not create any future problems
WILL (Not accepted in some provinces)
entirely in your own handwriting and signed by you
No witness is necessary
Not recommended as it may leave family members with a morass of
legal complications Your heirs may have trouble trying to interpret
your expressed wishes and financial institutions may be reluctant
to transfer assets in accordance with your wishes
WILL (In Quebec only)
Made before a notary
Signed by you, a witness and a notary
Kept by notary in special register
will won't become effective or public until your death. Until then
you can change the terms or revoke it completely - as long as you
are mentally competent. Your will should be reviewed at least once
every three years to ensure it has not been affected by changes
in legislation or your personal situation.
and appointing an executor may be one of the most important decisions
you'll ever make. An executor is the person, named in your will,
who is responsible for settling and managing your affairs after
your death. He/she must follow the instructions in your will and
is ultimately responsible to the beneficiaries.
This is not an honour you are bestowing on a friend. There are plenty
of other ways to involve your friends in your estate plan. You are
selecting the person who will be best suited and capable to either
handle all your affairs after you're gone or oversee their administration
with the assistance of knowledgeable professionals. The appointment
may be an imposition as the designate must be able to:
time to carry out all duties and responsibilities - may include
taking time off from work or sacrificing other personal responsibilities
with your family members, perhaps for a number of years if the
estate assets are not immediately distributed
sure you and the person you designate completely understand the
responsibility you are entrusting.
Prepares a statement of assets and liabilities and oversees them
Settles the liabilities of the estate, including all legitimate
claims by creditors, funeral and other expenses
May submit the will for probate
May have to arrange the funeral
Completes life insurance claims and collects proceeds of policies
in force, if estate is beneficiary
Distributes assets and property to beneficiaries according to
the instructions in the will
Invests, manages and distributes funds held in ongoing trusts
Files the final income tax returns and secures releases from Revenue
these duties in mind, consider the following character traits
when appointing your executor:
INTEGRITY AND GOOD JUDGMENT
the person be able to act fairly in dealing with family members?
the person seen the will and is he/she willing to take on the
PATIENCE AND ORGANIZATION SKILLS
he/she be able to follow up on all of the details, either directly
or with assistance of professionals?
the person be around to talk to family and advisers? Does he or
she live nearby?
AND FINANCIAL AWARENESS
Can he or she deal with the family dynamics?
he or she understand where professionals may be needed for investment,
tax and legal advice?
people often appoint more than one executor. Some people appoint
a family member because of their understanding of family dynamics,
and a professional to handle administrative and legal aspects of
the estate settlement. Naming an alternate is also wise if your
appointed executors cannot serve.
Some of the reasons for choosing a corporate executor (e.g., Trimark
Trust can act either as executor or agent to the executor) are:
You do not want to burden family members or friends
You do not know anyone who has the expertise to be your executor
You do not have immediate family members who live close by, or
do not want to have them involved or you
anticipate potential family strife, favouritism or jealousies
anticipate struggles for control over certain assets or business
appointed individual executor is unable or unwilling to undertake
You want to make sure your wishes are carried out, if you and
your spouse die in the same tragedy
guardian is the person who will become the legal custodian of your
minor children should you die. Choose someone you trust, and who
understands what you think is best for your kids. A guardianship
remains in force until children reach the age of majority. Parents
should openly discuss their desires with the person or people they
want to appoint as guardian(s), to ensure the appointees) are willing
to take on the responsibility. Remember that a good choice for a
guardian when your children are toddlers, may not be a wise choice
when they are teenagers.
CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING A GUARDIAN
the person share your child rearing values?
the person, or family, someone your children would want to live
that person willing to assume the responsibilities of guardianship?
your will provide sufficient financial support for the children
while they are in the guardian's care?
that person afford to raise and support your children?
some point in the future, due to an accident, disability or simply
old age, you may be unable to make your own financial or medical
decisions. But you can prearrange for someone to make these decisions
according to your wishes by having your lawyer draft a separate
power of attorney for property and personal care.