2 tips so you can finally get your will done

November 18, 2015

Creating a will can be a daunting task, especially because it means facing the inevitable. But there's good reasons to go through the annoying paperwork and get it done. With a few tips, you'll be glad you did it.

2 tips so you can finally get your will done

About half of all Canadians over the age of 18 don't have a will. And yet, a will lets you decide who gets your money when you die and when they get it; who's responsible for sharing out your estate (the executor); and who receives valuables or family heirlooms.

  • If you don't have one, it's time to sharpen your pencil and make one.

Avoid probate fees

Probate fees vary widely across the country, but are generally calculated as a percentage of the estate.

  • Here's a secret tip: you can avoid them by ensuring that whatever property and cash you leave flows directly into the hands of your spouse or an adult child.
  • Consider this, for example: if your family home isn't held jointly with your spouse, on your death, it will go through probate (basically a process of evaluating the estate). Since probate fees average about 1.5 percent in Ontario, your spouse might have to pay about $4,500 in fees on a house worth $300,000.
  • You can avoid these fees by jointly holding your house, cottage, as well as bank accounts and other assets with your spouse or an adult child (providing there's no good reason not to).
  • As well, you should ensure that you name a beneficiary for your RRSPs, RRIFs and insurance policy.

Get the power (of attorney, that is)

Think you're too young to set up a power of attorney for property and personal care? Think again.

Consider what will happen if you get into an accident on the highway and are injured badly enough to become mentally incompetent. Because you're not dead, your will can't help your family.

  • The government of whatever province you're in may well step in and freeze everything you own.
  • Basically, a power of attorney for property allows you to turn over the management of your financial affairs to your spouse or someone else.
  • A power of attorney for personal care allows you to designate someone you trust to handle medical decisions that have an impact on you. You can specify what kind of care you want and at which point you want your representative to pull the plug, and they must comply with your wishes.
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