Making a will can be a challenging stage in your overall estate plan, below are 8 simple steps to help you get started:
- Determine the value of your estate. List what assets you have and how much they are worth. Assets include all real estate, personal property, savings, antiques, collections, vehicles and other specific items. Knowing the worth of your estate will allow you to make informed decisions on how you wish to distribute it.
- Consider who you wish to appoint as your personal representative. A personal representative is responsible for managing your estate in accordance with the wishes in your will.
- Name a Guardian. If you have children under the age of 19, you should consider who you wish to name as their guardian.
- Determine how to distribute your estate. Make a list of people or entities you wish to divide your assets amongst. Consider what you specifically wish to leave each of them. Also consider to whom you wish to leave your residual estate and your obligations to your dependants. You should also consider naming an alternative beneficiary if the person named in the will has not survived you (by at least 5 days) to inherit.
- Make a will. Put your intentions in writing and ensure that your will complies with the formal requirements under WESA.
- Seek legal advice. Consulting a lawyer can help you determine what terms in the will are right for you. If you have special circumstances, blended family, a business or wish to create a trust legal advice is advisable.
- Make arrangements for lifetime planning. Consider having a power of attorney and who you wish to be your attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf for when you are unable to make such decisions. Similarly, consider making a health care representation agreement and naming a health care representative to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf.
- Keep and revise. Store your will in a safe place and review it periodically. Consider revising it whenever your circumstances change.
Further information on Trusts and Estate Law .
This article is intended to be an overview of the law and is for informational purposes only. Readers are cautioned that this article does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Rather, readers should obtain specific legal advice in relation to the issues they are facing.
This article was written by a lawyer formerly with Lindsay Kenney LLP.