Doing some thinking up front can help save you time and also help you minimize your legal fees to get your will prepared and in place. Here are some things to think about before you talk ‘wills’ with your legal advisors.

Your executor

This is the person who looks after pretty much everything after you’re gone – from paying your last Visa bill from your estate funds to making sure your wealth and belongings are distributed as you wished them to be. Often people choose their spouse but it can be anyone you trust and feel can do the job judiciously. Pick one or two alternates as well in case your chosen executor is unwilling or unable to act on your behalf.

How to divide your assets

You’ll need to have all of the detail on your wealth and assets – what they are, where they are held, what they’re worth, etc. These include insurance policies, pension plans, retirement benefits and investments. Think about how you wish to divide up those assets. You can be as specific as you like with this. Often, a more specific plan is the best choice since it leaves nothing to chance or anyone else’s judgement.

Guardians for your children

Think about who you want raising your children in the event you and your spouse are unable. The best guardians are those that share your values and know you well enough to understand how you want your children raised. They also need to be generous enough to open their home and welcome your children as their own.

Talk to prospective guardians and ask them if they would be your children’s guardians. It’s a big responsibility and you want to make sure they’re completely on-board.

Next Step

Mark complete and continue below if you're an owner and are ready to evaluate my own will and estate options. If you're a successor and are ready to weigh your own will and estate options mark complete on this and the next section read the page titled Successors: Making your individual choices

 

Issues to consider before you write a will - especially for owners

Trusts for children

Wealth automatically flows to children from a will when they turn 19 unless you establish a trust that holds that wealth for a longer period. There are some really good reasons why you might consider such a trust. Perhaps you want to make sure the money is used to finance something specific like a university education or a first home. Or maybe you want to protect your children from your creditors, or maybe you want to shelter them from some of the tax implications.

A trust is customized and spells out how and when wealth flows to your children. Again, a well-planned trust can avoid all sorts of hard feelings and difficulties for your family and executor.

Trusts for other purposes

You might want a trusts to serve another important purpose. Trusts can help with

  • Tax planning

  • Planning for blended families

  • Planning for disabled children

  • Charitable gifts

  • Family cottages

  • Business interests

Talk to your legal advisor to see how trusts might benefit you and your family.

Assignments

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