A Will allows a person to specify how they wish their Estate (i.e. assets) to be distributed, divided, or managed upon their death.
The lawyers at Solimano Law can help you prepare a new Will, or modify an existing Will.
What Does an Estate Include?
Generally speaking, anything you own which can be dealt with by way of your Will is part of your Estate.
Each Estate is composed of different items and it can be difficult to name each individual item.
Common items that are included in an Estate are:
- Bank accounts;
- Real estate;
- Investments, including bonds, stocks, mutual funds, term deposits, futures, and GICs;
- Chattels or tangible personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, clothes, and books;
- RRSPs and RRIFs;
- Life insurance, when payable to your estate;
- Debts owed to you;
- Intellectual property;
- Assets of unincorporated businesses; and
- Pension fund refunds.
If a person dies without a Will, then the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) governs the division and distribution of all assets, as well as the payment of all liabilities.
The result is that the distribution of your Estate may not be a true reflection of your wishes.
Purpose of a Will
The primary purpose of a Will is to ensure that your wishes are met following your death.
There are many benefits to having a Will. Some are:
- you can have the freedom to divide the estate as per your wishes;
- you can provide specific beneficiaries with certain items;
- you can provide for a partner who is not your spouse;
- you can provide for stepchildren;
- you can choose a party to administer your affairs;
- you can choose legal guardians for minor children;
- you can delay asset distribution until the beneficiaries reach an appropriate age; and
- you can allow for your estate to be administered more flexibly.
It is recommended to hire a professional to understand the various nuances of law. Whether you are creating a Will or changing one, our lawyers at Solimano Law can help you with your specific situation and wishes.
Contents of a Will
Wills are legally required to contain the following provisions:
- instruction for funeral arrangements;
- instruction for payment of debts;
- appointment of will executor(s); and
- bequests, whether general or specific or both.
A Will may also contain the following provisions (though not legally required):
- appointment of legal guardian for minors;
- creation of trusts for charity or minor children;
- instructions for the executor to carry out; and
- other clauses as relevant to the situation.
Changing Your Will During Divorce or Separation
If your Will is not updated after a separation and you pass away, there is risk that your ex-partner will inherit your assets as per the Will.
Beneficiary designations for RRSPs, insurance, and investments (among other similar assets) do not change in the event of a divorce or separation. You need to proactively change these things.
If your circumstances change, or if your wishes change, you can revoke your Will or add a codicil to the original Will.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to revoke a Will. They are:
- by making a new one;
- destroying the Will with the intention of revoking it; or
- signing a document that declares you have revoked the Will.
A codicil refers to a document that is added to the original Will and is prepared and executed in a similar way. A codicil may be your best option if you need to change only a part of the Will, while keeping the remaining parts of the Will the same.
The lawyers at Solimano Law recommend that all clients review their Wills at least once annually. This is to ensure that everything stated in the Will reflects your present circumstances and wishes.
Contact us today to speak with one of our lawyers about your specific situation, needs, and options.