A Will is a device which allows you to set the agenda for the management and orderly distribution of your money and property after your death. You need a Will to select the Executor who will carry out your instructions in your Will and who will be responsible for administering your Estate. You can choose one or more people as Executors. I recommend that you only choose a person who is resident in Ontario. You use your Will to select your beneficiaries rather than allowing the government to decide who inherits. For example, if you have a common law spouse or a same sex partner, he or she will not be considered your spouse for division of most of your assets if there is no Will. If you do not have a Will and your children are less than eighteen years of age, the children’s shares of your Estate are paid into Court and held there until the child reaches the age of eighteen years. The children will receive their money when they are eighteen years old whether or not they are mature enough or responsible enough to handle the money. A Will provides you with flexibility to create trusts for young children or to continue to meet any special needs or circumstances of other family members. A Will may allow you certain tax advantages or savings both at the time of your death and following your death.
After you have provided for payment of your debts, the distribution of your personal effects and the payment of any specific cash bequests, the Will could provide for the immediate distribution of the remainder of your Estate to one or more people. Alternatively, you could direct that the remainder be held in trust for specific people, on specific terms and conditions.
Ideally, you should review your Will every year, although this suggestion does not necessarily mean a meeting with your lawyer. I recommend that you simply remind yourself of your Will’s contents and determine whether anything has happened in the last year which requires a change in your Will. Certain events such as changes in your marital status, the purchase of property or investments, the birth or adoption of children or grandchildren may require or suggest changes in your Will. For example, if you marry after the date of your Will, the marriage revokes the prior Will.
Please Note: This information is not intended to contain advice specific to your situation. There are no cookie cutter solutions. After all, you are reading this information on the internet. Your situation is special and unique and you must be guided by specific individual advice from your Lawyer, Certified Financial Planner or Accountant.