The “accumulation years”, the time you spend on working and acquiring assets for both your personal and financial future use. During this period, you pursue your interests and donate to charities, own businesses, invest in stocks, and purchase property. Regardless of the type of assets you possess, you will most likely want them protected and deliberately distributed amongst your beneficiaries according to your liking.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that acts to outline the terms by which an individual wants their estate dealt with after death. It acknowledges their interests and concerns regarding finances, assets owned, entitlements, as well as addresses the means by which liabilities and debts are settled.

Why Make a Will?

Failing to create a will makes your estate susceptible to a lengthy and potentially undesirable distribution conducted according to the laws implemented by the province you reside in.

A will serves the following purposes:

  1. It establishes the distribution of your estate, inclusive of real estate, money, and other assets to either individuals or organizations.
  2. It authorizes the responsibilities you are entitling to your executor in order that they accurately administer your estate.
  3. It gives you the power to assign critical roles, such as who will be the guardian to your children as well as your executor.

Getting started on writing a will is a daunting task that many put off for years, being under the impression that they will have more time down the road. To some, constructing the document implies admittance to the inevitable fact that life is indeed finite. However, you should understand that a will establishes the foundation for estate planning. It helps mitigate the complications that may arise in the event that you suddenly pass away, which would leave the decision-making process up to the law.

Understanding where to start or what considerations should be made when writing your will may be confusing; hence, why below you will find a series of questions to think about in order to ensure that your thoughts and intentions are accurately reflected in your will.

1.Who will you Appoint as the Guardian of your Children?

Your aim when considering who to nominate as a guardian is to find an individual who you trust to successfully secure the goals you have in place for your children’s future. Perhaps think about someone who has similar values, beliefs, and motivations as yourself or your partner. This individual may be someone who can realistically and practically undertake the role as the guardian of your children, whether that be emotionally, financially, or physically. Many recommend that you choose someone who your children already know and trust in order to mitigate the discomfort and decrease the difficult adjustment period. Lastly, many parents choose to specifically outline where they would like their children to live, which activities they want them to partake in, and other miscellaneous aspects relevant to their upbringing.

2. Who will you Appoint as your Executor?

Choosing an executor is a very critical task as it must be an individual who you trust will successfully carry out the terms outlined in your will. Your executor will essentially be responsible for administering all matters pertaining to your estate. In many cases, the executor will also be a beneficiary. In the event that you are unable to come to a definitive choice due to familial conflict or other intervening circumstances, you can appoint a lawyer, a private trust company, or a notary public as your executor. It is important to consider nominating an individual who will most likely outlive you. Additionally, you may choose someone who lives out of province, however, be wary of the fact that many tasks and documents regarding your estate need to be handled and managed in British Columbia.

3. Who will be your Beneficiaries?

Your beneficiaries include the persons or organizations that you would like to see benefit from the contents of your will. The distribution of your estate is generally expressed as a percentage of what remains after all debts and liabilities are accounted for. Perhaps consider those beyond your immediate family, such as friends, charities or institutions that have positively impacted your life. You are able to appoint a minor, however, you may want to provide restrictions and specific instructions for the executor to carry out if the minor is inheriting property or shares.

4. What Assets Need to be Distributed and Accounted for?

It is advisable to categorically list your assets that you would like to distribute along with as much relevant information you can provide related to it. This may include the approximate value of the asset, whether the asset is independently owned or not, or whether there is an outstanding loan involved. For more significant assets such as properties, ensure that you are aware of and state the specific whereabouts of admissible documentation, for example the certificate of title. Additionally, try to be as specific as possible when listing which beneficiaries you would like to inherit certain assets, whether it is a treasured heirloom or cash amounts.

5. Who will be Included in your Enduring Power of Attorney?

An enduring power of attorney is a supplementary legal document that many individuals construct in addition to their will. You may want to consider appointing an individual who will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. You will need to carefully choose an individual who you trust can trust to undertake your responsibilities and carry out your wishes. A power of attorney will allocate decisions regarding your financial and medical matters.

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