Making your will is the foundation for all estate planning. You may think making a will is not important. But your loved ones certainly suffer if you don’t have a will. Let’s look at some tricks and truths about making your will.
Perhaps you haven’t made your will because you are:
- confused by all your options;
- need more information to make better decisions; and
- do not know how to ask for help.
Let’s clear some of these things up. Postponing making a will does not make things easier. So let me tell you the best trick to know about wills.
The Trick to Wills is Having One
Here is what I have learned and why you should listen to me.
Years ago I wrote a couple of Complete Idiots’ Guides for Canadians. I wrote about wills, estates and estate planning. I did media interviews and spoke to audiences across Canada.
I was also the founding chair of Ontario’s Make-a-Will Campaign. The campaign explained the importance of estate planning and charitable gifts. We explained the benefits of a lawyer prepared will.
I sponsored radio shows and answered callers’ will questions. I even named my law firm website mrwills.com.
I am frequently interviewed as a will and estate expert.
I know the difficulties people have understanding wills. Here are the three most common questions I am asked:
- Why do I need a lawyer to make a will?
- Why are wills so important?
- Why do I need to change my will?
Find a Will Lawyer
You want to invest in a lawyer prepared will. You can find lawyers in every price range. When you spread the cost over 5-10 years, it is reasonable. Compare it to your monthly cable TV bill to prove it.
But make sure you do a little homework. You want to find the right will lawyer. You need to prepare before you meet with your lawyer. Ask the lawyer what you must bring to the meeting.
Do you really need to prepare for such a meeting? Wouldn’t you prepare for any important business meeting or presentation?
Preparation will save you time and money. You can then get the right advice.
Making a Will Is Important
Even if you postpone more extensive estate planning, you should make a will. It is the most cost effective way to protect your loved ones. Read more about what happens if you die without a will at mrwills.com. Look up intestate and intestacy problems.
Your will can later be revised. A full estate plan may include trusts for minor children or beneficiaries with special needs. You need to consider insurance, powers of attorney and planning to reduce taxes.
A will is the best way to protect your family and heirs. When you make a will you can:
- reduce taxes your family must pay
- arrange for the smooth transfer of property (a family business, summer home) from one generation to another
- arrange for the orderly transfer of your assets in an inexpensive way
- avoid unnecessary delays
- reduce legal costs
Don’t Leave Things to Chance
Many people think their spouses or children will automatically receive all their property. This is not true.
What happens if you die without a will? Honestly, you leave your loved ones with more pain. I have seen it add years of extra legal work in an estate.
Think of the added problems you create by not having a will. No one can sign your tax returns or confirm your funeral arrangements. How does anyone get access to your private information?
Unless you have a will and name an executor or estate trustee, no one is in charge.
In some cases, almost half of your estate can be eaten up by taxes. Unnecessary costs and delays can eat up even more.
All of these problems can be avoided. You can do it by investing in a will today.
What You Need to Know
Wills are not cut in stone so they are easy to change. You’ll want to update your will whenever you experience changes like:
- you move to a new jurisdiction (provincial laws are different)
- your relationships change (you marry, separate or divorce)
- your assets change (you inherit or start a business)
- the law changes your tax or financial obligations
- you need new guardians, beneficiaries or executors
Wills are the cornerstone of your estate plan. If you do nothing else to protect your family, at least make a will.
A professional will is always your best investment.
You can’t afford to have an amateur make your will.
I hope this information helps you make your will.
You can get started right now.
The truth is it’s never too soon to make your will.
The truth is that simple.
Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, C.S.) is a Toronto estate lawyer and nationally recognized author. Ed is a Toronto based Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts. He can be reached through his web site, MrWills.com © 2014.