You’ve finally done it. You’ve made the decision to make a Will, and you’ve booked an initial appointment with your lawyer. The hard part is over. So now what? Preparing your Will does not need to be a difficult task. By taking the time to plan now, you will save your family and close ones the headache of dealing with your assets if you pass. Before heading in to meet with your lawyer, take some time to consider the following.

1 – Make a List of the Assets You Own and Review Your Beneficiary Designations

This includes properties, bank accounts, investment portfolios, insurance policies, and any other assets in your name. Keep in mind you will also need to consider how you own this property, namely whether it is jointly with others, or in your name alone. The beneficiaries named on any RRSP/RIF/TFSA accounts or life insurance policies will receive the balance of these accounts outside of your Will. That’s why it’s important to review your assets and your beneficiary designations and ensure your Will plans are in line with your ultimate distribution strategy.

2 – Consult Your Accountant and/or Your Financial Planner

Death has many tax implications. Assets that you want to give away will sometimes come with tax burdens that your estate will need to pay for. That means that some things might need to be rearranged, or life insurance policies might be used to cover some of the heavier burdens to ensure your plan is sound. Seeing an accountant and financial advisor on what your estate will face down the line and how to achieve your goals is always a good idea for a smart estate plan.

3 – Have a Family Meeting

Successful estate plans are often based on open communication and a common family mission. This is a great idea for families to ensure a smooth succession, the realization of their family mission, less chance of conflict, and a lasting family legacy.

4 – Decide Your Executor(s)

This will be who you would like to handle your estate and should be someone you trust to control your assets, take care of your property, and honor your requests. Spouses, family members, or close friends are often obvious choices. In some more complicated cases, you may choose to appoint a professional or trust company. Whatever the case, it is important to remember that being an executor of an estate is a big role. You must be careful when considering who to appoint, and once you have decided, to be sure they are willing to take on the role. It is also important to consider an alternate executor, who will step in if your first choice is unable to carry out the role.

5 – Decide Your Beneficiaries

Through your Will, you will be able to lay out exactly who will inherit what from your estate. This can be family, friends, or individuals, as well as charities or non-profit organizations. Be sure to also consider alternate beneficiaries, who will inherit the assets should your first choices be unable to.

6 – Appoint a Guardian

If you have children or other beneficiaries under the age of 18, you will need to consider who to appoint as the guardian in the event that neither parent is available. This important decision can save your family and friends from a long and complicated process in the courts, and provide your child(ren) with a smoother transition in accordance with your wishes. As with the executor, you should be sure the person you appoint is willing to take on the role. You may also want to think about how to direct the guardian in making future decisions with your loved ones.

By thinking through these main factors in advance and coming prepared, we can tailor your Will to your particular needs and desires. Of course, everyone is different and along the way, we may find that some things suit your plan more than others. By working collaboratively, we can determine your best possible estate plan. Contact our office, we would love to get you started.