July 4th, 2019 by Colin Flannigan

Writing a will is an essential step to planning the future of your assets, as well as ensuring your family and loved ones will always be taken care of. Wills allow you to maintain control of what happens to your life’s earnings. This could mean assets with monetary value, such as real estate, bank accounts, and businesses, but it could also mean things of sentimental value, such as family heirlooms and pets. Wills allow you the agency to appoint who you believe is the best fit to take care of your belongings after you pass. This gives clarity and ease of administration to your loved ones. When you make a will, you ensure that you decide what happens to your assets, as opposed to the government. It gives you the peace of mind of maximizing the number of belongings you have going to beneficiaries. When writing a will, one must take concise action and take numerous things into consideration. As such, we at FH&P have compiled a list of a few Do’s and Don’ts to help with the process:

Do:

  • Consult a lawyer. Lawyers can advise you on the use of precise language and allow you to know your rights & responsibilities. Consulting with a lawyer also allows you to avoid high post- mortem litigation fees that could result from the use of un-precise language. Seeking out the advice of a lawyer helps you ensure that your assets pass in a manner that is consistent with your wishes.
  • Know the purpose of your will. Make sure you understand the value of your assets and have a concise reason as to why you are passing it on to specific beneficiaries.
  • Consider all those you want to benefit & to whom you may have legal obligation. This includes spouses and children, and anybody else with a right of survivorship.
  • Keep your will in a safe place. Make sure your executor knows where you have placed your will, and that they have access to it. One way to secure the location of your will is registering the location by filing a will’s notice. Click here to learn how.
  • Appoint guardians to any minors. This avoids uncertainties associated with who is responsible for taking care of and making decisions on behalf of your child once you pass. By appointing a guardian, you ensure that your child and loved ones do not experience undue stress at especially emotional time.
  • Don’t forget to update your will periodically. If your life circumstances (such as your marital status or the health of your beneficiaries) change, you must ensure that your will aligns with your current wishes. It is advisable to review your will with a lawyer every 3-5 years.
  • Don’t leave all your assets to just one person. Think of contingent or gift over beneficiaries. That way, your assets are distributed evenly enough that even if something were to happen to your beneficiaries, your assets will be safe.
  • Don’t forget to include pets in your will. Although to many of us, they are considered family, they are viewed by the government as property and would be treated as such.
  • Don’t write your own will. In the long run, this can cost your estate significantly more. It is always beneficial to consult with a lawyer to determine what the value of your estate is, and how best to distribute your assets, keeping in mind legal obligations. Having precise language in your will is also important, as it helps you avoid litigation expenses in the future, and a lawyer can help you draft up a will in a language that is consistent with your wishes/

Don’t:

  • Don’t forget to update your will periodically. If your life circumstances (such as your marital status or the health of your beneficiaries) change, you must ensure that your will aligns with your current wishes. It is advisable to review your will with a lawyer every 3-5 years.
  • Don’t leave all your assets to just one person. Think of contingent or gift over beneficiaries. That way, your assets are distributed evenly enough that even if something were to happen to your beneficiaries, your assets will be safe.
  • Don’t forget to include pets in your will. Although to many of us, they are considered family, they are viewed by the government as property and would be treated as such.
  • Don’t write your own will. In the long run, this can cost your estate significantly more. It is always beneficial to consult with a lawyer to determine what the value of your estate is, and how best to distribute your assets, keeping in mind legal obligations. Having precise language in your will is also important, as it helps you avoid litigation expenses in the future, and a lawyer can help you draft up a will in a language that is consistent with your wishes

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