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A Will forms an essential part of your estate* plan.  It is a written document, preferably drafted by a lawyer that expresses your wishes for the distribution of your assets at your death.  It will also deal with any debts of your estate ensuring that they are paid including any taxes owing.

A well thought-out Will can provide for the needs of your family at death and efficiently distribute your assets to those who you wish to benefit from your estate.  Without a Will, your estate may not be distributed in accordance with your wishes but rather by provincial intestacy legislation, which dictates the distribution of your estate.

Generally, a Will performs several functions.  It designates an executor/estate trustee who is the person or institution that will administer your estate.

It sets out the distribution of assets to particular individuals or organizations and controls when and how this distribution will occur.  It will determine the age at which any minor or adult beneficiary is to receive their share under your Will. It can contain trust provisions for your minor beneficiaries until such time as you desire for them to benefit from your estate.  It can make appropriate provisions for a disabled child and can also address who will have guardianship of your children on an interim basis until such time as a court appoints a guardian for them.

A Will can specify whether debts owing to you at the time of your death are to be repaid (possibility through the reduction of a beneficiary’s share) or forgiven by you through your Will.

By having a Will, it can minimize the cost of administering your estate and help to reduce or postpone tax liabilities arising at death.  From a practical perspective, you will also give your grieving relatives and friends a “roadmap” of how you want your estate dealt with.  By having a Will, it should help ease the matters that they must deal with at the time of your death.

When a valid Will exists, probate may not be required.  Probate is the court process to validate the Will.  There are fees associated with probate and they vary according to the province where the assets of the estate are located.  When there is no Will an intestacy results.  This means a personal representative will be appointed by the court and probate will automatically apply.  The estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules of the province.

Generally, your Will can be revoked or changed at any time so long as you continue to have capacity to make a valid will.  Therefore, it can be modified to fit with your continuing life changes.  A Will can be modified in part by what is called a codicil or can completely be redone in its entirety.

Finally, your Will should be reviewed or modified every three to five years as a general rule or where life circumstances warrant a change.  Life circumstances could include a change in your financial situation, marriage, divorce, death or birth of a child.

*The total property of whatever kind that you own at death and which will be distributed according to your Will.

Source: Manulife Financial

*Disclaimer* Denikings Insurance and Investment Broker does not provide any legal advice or services. Please consult a lawyer about any legal concerns.

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