Drafting your will can feel like a daunting task, but creating your first will can be easier than you think if you know what to expect and how to prepare. Think a will is only necessary if you’re married with children? Think again. A simple will is beneficial at any stage of your life, and your will can always be cancelled or amended if and when you want to make changes. Here is what you should know before starting your will:
Lawyer vs. Home Kit
When considering costs, an at-home Will Kit can seem like a good option. Although you could complete the kit you might make mistakes and all the online research in the world cannot replace years of education and work experience a lawyer would have. Have an idea of how much a lawyer would charge? You could be overestimating, why not contact a lawyer for a quote? That way you can have a clear idea of what you need and you can plan accordingly. The costs a lawyer could potentially save you or your loved ones in taxes and legal fees over disputes can far outweigh the initial investment so consider hiring a professional carefully.
The most important elements of your will are the people you name. You will need to choose an executer, beneficiaries, and a guardian if you have minor children.
Your Executer – Choose someone you know well and trust to be organized, responsible and professional. The executer will be responsible for settling any debts you may have, filing legal documents and your final tax return, dividing your estate, and managing your children’s finances. Your spouse is the natural choice for most but make sure you name a backup in case your spouse passes before you do.
Your Beneficiaries – Your beneficiaries can be your spouse and children, but you can also name nieces and nephews, siblings, or any other family members you want to leave assets to. Without a will your loved ones might not receive what you intend them to have.
Your Guardian/s – if you have children who are minors you will need to assign a guardian (or a couple) to take care of them after you pass. Make this decision carefully with your spouse and discuss your wishes for your children with the guardian/s you select.
Your estate is essentially everything you own and everything you owe. Your executer will manage any debts that need to be settled and the remainder will be divided as you outline in your will. If you have any family heirlooms, artwork, jewellery, or items with sentimental value you may specify these items in your will, or consider using a memorandum in order to make changes more easily.
Aside from your original will there are a few other documents you may need to draft:
Memorandum – Use a memorandum to specify smaller, non monetary items you wish to leave to your loved ones.
Letter of Wishes – Consider writing a letter of wishes to outline any wishes you may have for your children and their upbringing. You may choose to include any instructions for your funeral and burial preferences in a separate letter of wishes.
Single with a Modest Estate?
You don’t need to be married with children or wealthy to benefit from drafting your will. Any legal arrangements you make now can help any remaining family members after your passing. Rather than have the government decide who receives your estate or laying the legal burden on family members, make sure you have the final say in who gets what.
Whether you’re married or single, submit an invoice for completing your first personal will and take advantage of our Will Rebate Program.