The thought of preparing your first legal will can seem insurmountable, and it can stir up deep emotions. That’s why many people procrastinate when it comes to getting started on estate planning. However, drafting your will doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.
Here are a few key steps from our partners at Willful to get you started:
Involve your spouse or partner
When drafting your will, it’s important to create it with your spouse or common-law partner. The decisions that have to made about the allocation of your estate should involve both people. If you have children who are minors, you and your spouse will need to choose who should take care of your dependents if you both pass away. However, it’s important to note that even though you’re working together on the decisions, you’ll both need to create your own individual wills.
Identify who should be involved in carrying out your wishes
These are the key roles you need to choose trusted family or friends for when estate planning:
- Custodian(s): this role is responsible for the physical custody of your child (if a minor) if you and your spouse pass away. It’s common to choose the same person as the guardian.
- Guardian(s): a guardian should be a family member or friend (it can be a single person or couple), who you trust completely to assume management of the assets of your child (if a minor), if you and your spouse pass away.
- Executor and Estate Trustee: keep in mind that this role is responsible for executing your end of life wishes. The executor will distribute monetary funds (according to what’s written in your will) to your beneficiaries. An executor also acts on behalf of your business (if you own one), and your financial interests.
- Power of attorney for property: if you are medically unable to make decisions about your property and finances, an Attorney for property will fill this role, so make sure you choose someone trusted like your spouse, a family member or close friend.
- Power of attorney for personal care: if you are unable to make decisions or communicate due to medical reasons, an Attorney for personal care will step in. Their role is to liaise with healthcare providers. A spouse, close relative or close friend would be a good choice for this role.
- Backups: you should also choose backup people (also called substitutes) just in case someone you’ve picked for one of the roles refuses the task or they’re unable to fulfil their role.
- Spouse: if you’re married, you and your spouse may want to create a mirrored will, and work together to make decisions on your shared assets and dependents.
Make a list of your items for gifting purposes
It’s a good idea to keep a detailed list of your valuables and belongings that you want to leave to specific people. These items (known as bequests) can include monetary funds, jewelry, artwork, family heirlooms and special mementos. When it comes to thinking of your financials and investments, your will covers your umbrella estate (everything you own, unless it’s owned jointly, or already has a named beneficiary). This means you don’t have to worry about calculating your current net worth.
Have the conversations
Now that you’ve decided who you would like to fill each role above, it’s important that you ask the people you’ve chosen if they feel comfortable taking on the added responsibilities. The roles of guardian and attorney for personal care can be very emotionally and financially tiring. So, you’ll want to make sure the people you’ve chosen understand their responsibilities and are willing to carry them out when the time comes.
Block off some quiet time
Now that you’ve completed these tasks — made an inventory of your belongings; designated who receives them; chosen the people who will carry out your end of life wishes; and you’ve had important conversations with your loved ones — you’re ready to create your will! It’s a good idea to block off some quiet time when you won’t be disturbed and when you can focus. To help make the process run quickly and smoothly (about 20 minutes to an hour), check out the simple online tool from our partners at Willful*. Simple and efficient!
Now you can check this task off your to-do list and give you and your family peace of mind that your end of life wishes will be taken care of if the unexpected happens.
The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.
Online will service called Willful (“Willful”) provided by Final Blueprint Inc. (“Blueprint”) and offered through the website located at willful.co. Willful is not a law firm and does not provide any legal advice. If you need legal advice for your specific matter, or if your matter is too complex to be addressed by its tools, you should consult a licensed lawyer in your area.