A Will is not something you create and forget about.

Life changes, and it is important to make sure that you are leaving your assets to the people that mean the most to you. There are seven major life altering events.

Did You Just Get Married?

This is typically a time when people think about getting a Will done. Prior to you saying “I do,” it is likely that your parents or siblings were the beneficiaries of your life insurance, assets, estate or money. Now that you have a spouse, you may want to entirely overhaul (or even start) a brand-new Will or reconsider the terms of your life insurance policy. If you pass on prior to your spouse (say in the event of a common car accident) that person will be taken care of.

You Have Health Issues

You can never truly know what life will throw at you. You may encounter a time when you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf. Establishing a Will and Living Will prior ensures that your wishes will be followed even when you are not able to make decisions. Do not leave your family struggling in the most stressful time.

Congratulations! It’s a Boy!

Did your family just grow by one? This is typically the time when parents often consider creating a Last Will and Testament. After all, the financial future of your child is your responsibility. As a parent, you are going to want to ensure that your child has the best opportunities in education, health and travel. A nice inheritance can do just that.

You Own or  Have Sold Property

Whether you are a budding real estate mogul or simply have dreams of owning a home,  in the event that you have made a major property purchase (i.e. purchasing a condo or house) you REALLY may want to look at making changes to your Last Will. If, for instance, in the event of you selling off property and making a small mint off of the sale, you may decide that you want to bequeath this amount to one of your beneficiaries.

Your Beneficiary Passed Away

While many people often arrange for younger beneficiaries to receive assets in their Last Will and Testament, the unexpected can always occur in life. If your beneficiary has passed, you may want to revise your Will to ensure that your assets are now bequeathed to a new beneficiary.

You Have Become a Grandparent

Congratulations! Not only did you raise a family, but now your kids have children. If you would like to leave them something that might help them through a major financial undertaking, now is a great time to update and revise your Will.

You Won the Lottery! (Or You Have Landed Your Dream Job)

Okay, maybe you didn’t win millions, but you did land that dream job! It has significantly changed your financial circumstances. You are probably now seeing dollar signs and considering buying that condo, beach house, boat, car, or travelling to exotic places. After the initial euphoria wears off, it may be a good time to think about revising your Last Will and Testament. Can you, for instance, increase the amount of money you would like to leave in trust for your children? Or the amount of money you would like to bequeath to your elderly parents or loved ones?

There is no Time Like the Present

While it might seem as if every significant life event is a reason to update your Last Will, it is really more about doing the legwork to ensure your will is up-to-date. Again, your Will isn’t something you just set and forget. Being active now makes life easier later on.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online legal wills. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. You can create your free account in seconds and pay through our secure payment system. We have established a user-friendly online service that creates your legal documents instantly and is designed to save you money on legal fees while guaranteeing your satisfaction with your estate planning needs.

Are you ready to start your estate planning process instantly? Click here to learn more.

A significant portion of young adults are delaying what are considered traditional life milestones:  marriage, having kids, buying a home, etc. Many factors contribute to this problem, particularly an unstable economy, lower salary increases and increasing living costs (especially if you live in a big city). All which force Millennials to focus on living in the present, rather than the future.

There is still a case to be made for planning for the future — and doing so now.

The reality is, even if you’ve decided to delay buying a home, get married or have kids, you still need to plan for your future. That does not simply mean just opening and contributing to an RRSP. Estate planning is not just for old people.

Estate planning is necessary for people at any age (especially those over 18) but it is especially beneficial to people who eventually climb the career (or corporate) ladder and start a family.

Name a Decision-Maker

Most people consider estate planning as simple as writing a Last Will. While the process of creating a Will is important, one of your first steps actually needs to be establishing a Power of Attorney or a Power of Attorney for healthcare (otherwise known as a Living Will). You may never know, down the road, what health problems you may run across.  This makes it even more critical for young people to ensure they have someone who is legally able to make financial and healthcare decisions on their behalf, should the need ever arise. Once you hit 18, you are legally considered an adult who can make decisions on his/her own behalf.  A Power of Attorney or a Living Will allows you the opportunity to legally appoint someone else to make those financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Take Care of Those You Love the Most

Nobody is supposed to die before their parents, but sadly, it does happen.

You need to think about your beneficiaries and Last Will. Once you get a job, you may have the opportunity to contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and life insurance coverage. You need to make sure that you identify a beneficiary for each policy. In the event of a premature passing, your policies ensure that your beneficiaries receive your assets.

Without a Last Will, the sharing of your assets will be decided by the court (as small as they may be), and you risk leaving your loved ones empty-handed.

You Own More than You Think

You may believe that your assets are not worth much (especially in a formal legal document like a will), but you actually might be surprised by the value of your assets, such as:

  • an RRSP
  • a life insurance policy
  • a vehicle
  • memorabilia

Probate Can Take Forever

A Last Will can save your loved ones a lot of time. Your estate can sail through the probate process.  Should the unexpected happen, your Will ensures that the people who are responsible for settling your estate can do so as seamlessly and as painlessly as possible. Without a Will, it may take a year or longer to distribute your assets (the courts may have to jump in make decisions on this).

You may be under the impression that these kinds of important life decisions are reserved for people much older than you. Making these decisions sooner rather than later lays the foundation for more complex estate planning which comes later on in life, such as retirement planning.  It is essential that you have a solid foundation to eliminate any hassle and heartache if the unexpected were ever to happen.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online legal wills. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. You can create your free account in seconds and pay through our secure payment system. We have established a user-friendly online service that creates your legal documents instantly and is designed to save you money on legal fees while guaranteeing your satisfaction with your estate planning needs.

Are you ready to start your estate planning process instantly? Click here to learn more.

A Last Will and a Living Will are two different estate planning documents: one deals with your affairs after you have passed on, while the other deals with your affairs while you are alive. A Last Will and Testament specifies decisions relating to the end of your life. A Living Will allows someone to make health care decisions on your behalf. If, for instance, you slip into a coma or no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions on your own, your Living Will expresses your wishes in regards to what type of health care you wish to receive. A Living Will, may for instance, contain a “Do Not Resuscitate” order or a refusal for a very specific type of medical procedure.

To create a Living Will, you need to be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind. You also need to appoint someone to act as your “Attorney” (otherwise known as an “Agent” or “Proxy” in some provinces) to convey your health care wishes to your family and physician who may be looking after you in a hospital. A Living Will can ensure that the choices relating to your health are respected by all parties impacted by your incapacity.

You should consider a Living Will if:

  • You have specific health care wishes that you would like to be carried out on your behalf (i.e. you do not want to be resuscitated if you are in a vegetative state)
  • You are about to be hospitalized or have a major upcoming surgery
  • You are diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • You want to complete your estate plan

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Power of Attorney? 

A Living Will and a Power of Attorney are both legal documents allowing someone you trust the ability to make decisions on your behalf while you are alive but incapacitated. A Living Will is designed to convey your healthcare related decisions. A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to oversee financial matters on your behalf.

Selecting an Attorney for your Living Will 

The “Attorney” must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and be trustworthy enough to act on your behalf. You may want to discuss the responsibilities an Attorney undertakes with the person in question.  Make sure he or she is comfortable enough to fulfill the role. Choose someone you know who has the maturity and abilities to carry on with the duties of being an Attorney.

Updating Your Living Will

Just as you would with a Last Will and Testament, you may also want to update your Living Will periodically. These are the following situations in which it is important to consider updating your Living Will:

  • Major life/family event changes
  • Marriage/divorce
  • Your “Attorney”  is unable/unwilling to take on the responsibility

You can use FormalWill.ca’s online Living Will order form to go through an easy step-by-step process to fill out each question.

Making your wishes as transparent as possible through your Living Will can help you avoid prolonged pain or suffering, should the time come when it is necessary to use it.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online estate planning. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. We have established a user-friendly online service which creates your legal documents instantly and is designed to save you money and time.

Are you ready to start the process of establishing a Living Will instantly? Click here to learn more.

Being asked to be the Executor on behalf of a loved one is often viewed as a sign of honour and respect.

It can also be an incredibly stressful experience if you are ill-prepared. If you are asked to be an Executor, do you know what your responsibilities will be?

An Executor has specific duties and responsibilities to undertake. If you ever find yourself in the position of taking on the role and responsibilities of Executor, you may want to familiarize yourself with what you will need to do. Many Executors are chosen on the basis of a) having a previous established (close) relationship based on trust with the person creating the Last Will and Testament, and b) knowledge of the financial matters pertaining to the role.

We will list the responsibilities and tasks an Executor takes on  further down below (although this is by no means an exhaustive list).

Your Responsibilities as an Executor:

  • Taking care of funeral/memorial service(s) and cremation(s)
  • Locating the beneficiaries/heirs and letting them know of their inheritance
  • Inventorying any safety deposit box content (if one is owned by the deceased)
  • Inventorying all assets, debt and liabilities
  • Ensure that all property in the name of the deceased is insured
  • Surveying and overseeing any real estate owned by the deceased
  • Possibly selling off estate/assets owned by the deceased
  • Paying off all debts and expenses owed by the estate of the deceased
  • Responsibility for overseeing and dealing with any lawsuits against the estate
  • Setting up any trusts for minor children
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Dispersing the property of the deceased as per the directions laid out in the Will


An Executor’s duties and responsibilities can be extensive, time-consuming and cause a significant amount of stress. If you prepare yourself by taking the time to understand the tasks you will be required to perform, the role of an Executor can be a more straightforward and less stressful.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online estate planning. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. We have established a user-friendly online service which creates your legal documents instantly and is designed to save you money and time.

Preparing a Will online saves you time and money, and spares your loved ones the headaches of  dealing with skyrocketing administrative fees and estate taxes once you have passed. Without a Last Will and Testament in place, your heirs may also be required to go through a lengthy court process, one which may impact to where and to whom the property, estate and assets you previously wanted to go.

Being clear about your intentions once you have passed is essential to creating a Will, so preparing yourself adequately for the process of creating one is vital.

We’ve outlined below the information you need to have handy and the questions you need to ask yourself now that you’ve decided to create your Will online.

 

Who are Your Beneficiaries?

Make sure you have carefully thought about to whom and to where you would prefer your assets/estate to go to once you have passed on. This is the first major step in creating your Will. To create a Will using FormalWill’s online system, you will be required to state your relationship status with any proposed beneficiaries (or heirs).

Naming Your Executor

The role of an appointed Executor can be complicated and time-consuming because he or she needs to make sure your assets are appraised and appropriately evaluated.Your Executor is in charge of distributing your property to beneficiaries and settling your estate and assets when you have passed. That person will also be responsible for closing any outstanding financial obligations left in your name (such as any outstanding debts to be paid), managing your funeral arrangements, and a wide array of other tasks.

When you are considering appointing an Executor for your Will, someone very close and trustworthy is the most likely candidate. An Executor appointee can be your spouse,children, sibling, relatives or a very close friend. When completing your Will online, you need to identify the Executor, your relationship with the person in question, and if necessary, designate an alternate Executor if your first choice has either passed on or is otherwise unable to fulfill their responsibilities for whatever reason.

You may also wish to appoint an estate planning lawyer to fulfill the role of your Executor, if that is your preference.

Decide Where Your Assets are Going

You can distribute your estate/assets among as many people as you prefer, to be split among your beneficiaries on a percentage basis. For instance, if you want to pass your assets onto a single person, identify that you would like 100% of your estate to that person. If you would like to split your estate to be divided among two beneficiaries in an equal 50-50 split, you can identify that in your Will.

You are also able to identify any specific gifts you’d like a particular person to have.

This includes charitable donations. All you need to do is determine the charitable group, their city/province of operation, and the dollar amount you would like to donate.
Formal appraisals of your assets are not required, but may be useful later in the process, especially when it comes to valuables such as jewelry and artwork.

Identify Any Trusts or Guardians

If you would like your estate/assets to be set aside as a trust for any minor children, identify your heirs and the age(s) at which the trust will be available to them.

At this point, you will also need to establish Guardianship for your children if they are under the age of majority at the time of your passing. A Guardian can be a friend or family member, but it is always a good idea to broach the topic of Guardianship first prior to identifying them in your Will.

Knowing what information you need to have at the ready before you create your Will online makes the whole process easier.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online legal wills. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. You can create your free account in seconds and pay through our secure payment system. We have established a user-friendly online service that creates your legal documents instantly while saving you money and time.

Are you ready to start your will planning process instantly? Click here to learn more.

…And How to Prepare a Power of Attorney Online 

Having a Power of Attorney document is essential for a situation in which you may be incapacitated (i.e. after a common car accident) and require someone else to handle your financial (and business) affairs. A Power of Attorney allows someone you trust the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf if and when you are unable to do so.

A Power of Attorney is different from a Last Will: a Power of Attorney comes into effect while you are alive. The person making the document is known as the “Donor,” while the person appointed to make the decisions on your behalf  is known as your “Attorney.”

Establishing your Power of Attorney is a critical part of the estate planning process. Without one, your family and loved ones may be required to go through a complicated and costly court process to be permitted to deal with any of your financial affairs.

Before You Start The Process of Establishing Your Power of Attorney

You should have some of your personal information at the ready, including your legal name and current address. You should also know at this point who you would like as your “Attorney” and who you would want as a backup choice.

Who You Want to Appoint as Your Power of Attorney

The person you choose must be prepared to act in your best interest and keep records of all of the duties they have performed on your behalf. Keep in mind that your Attorney can resign by written notification.

When you have decided who you would like to act on your behalf, you will need to identify that person in your Power of Attorney through written recognition.Their name  and relationship to you will be noted in your Power of Attorney.

FormalWill.ca’s proprietary technology produces a Power of Attorney that gives broad powers to cover a range of financial and business matters, manage real estate, maintain insurance and act upon many other financial matters on your behalf.

FormalWill.ca is a leader in online estate planning. Our system has been developed in close consultation with Canadian lawyers to ensure the utmost accuracy. We have established a user-friendly online service which creates your legal documents instantly and is designed to save you money and time.

Are you ready to start your power of attorney document right now? Click here to learn more.

People sometimes ask if their Last Will and Testament comes with an expiration date. Do you need to fill out a new Will if at any time the old one expires? While the answer to that question is no, it is always a good idea to change your Will as you see fit. Life changes and your Will should change along with it. There are numerous reasons as to why you would want to change your Will including: a birth or death in the family, a new job which causes you to move from your old location, receiving a new inheritance, or anything major which causes changes to your life.

Some people ask if they can simply input certain hand-written lines into their Last Will and Testament, which is really not a good idea simply for the fact that a hand-written notation scribbled on the side of a Last Will can cause confusion for your Executor or loved ones. If you hand-write an amendment to your Will it may invalidate other parts of your Will. Or it just may be confusing to read, or even not considered as a legally-binding aspect of your Will.

If you want to make changes to your Will, having an entirely brand-new Will drafted up is best.

That brings up another question about Wills: what happens to the previous Will you created? When you create a brand-new Will, any Will that was created prior to that is rendered null and void. There is usually a clause specifying this in the Will and this clears up any confusion between the new and old Will you have just created. In order to ensure that copies of your old and new Will don’t get mixed up, you may want to either shred or burn the old document, which includes both signed and unsigned copies of the Will. That also includes making sure that neither your Executor nor your loved ones have any copies of the old Will.

One thing to be certain of when you start drafting up your new Will is to ensure that your Executor and loved ones all know about the new copy. There are infamous cases of squabbling over money once a person dies and contentious courtroom battles over a person’s assets. Even if you believe that you don’t own much, you still want to make sure that there is enough for your family or loved ones to be looked after, don’t you?

Last week, we wrote about the importance of choosing a Guardian . This week, we are writing about the importance of choosing an Executor and all that entails. An Executor is someone appointed by you to look after your estate and assets after your death. Just as choosing a Guardian can be a difficult choice, choosing an Executor for your Last Will and Testament can be hard. Before selecting someone to be your Executor, however, consider what an Executor does:

  • The role of Executor can be complex and time consuming: the Executor secures the assets and estate of the person who has died (in other words, the Executor looks after all of your stuff when you are not around anymore and takes inventory).
  • The Executor has to make sure that your assets (particularly heirlooms and antiques) are properly appraised and evaluated (i.e. find out how much these items are worth). See this real-life example.
  • Paying off any debts you owe : this is a huge part of why a Will is so important. When you do not have a Will in place, that means that your estate has to pay extra legal fees to hire a lawyer to figure out to where all your things go.
  • Make funeral arrangements – sounds like an easy task but comes with emotional baggage and extra financial costs which are taken from the estate.
  • Forwarding mail, canceling subscriptions, etc. In order to cancel mail or subscriptions the Executor has to provide proof through a death certificate.

Those are just SOME of the tasks an Executor has to take care of. Which is why you should consider the following when it comes down to CHOOSING the Executor for your Last Will and Testament :

  • Is this person up for the task? Given the administrative, legal and financial headaches the role of an Executor can bring (on top of having a full time job), does this person have the ability and time to take on this role?
  • Where does this person live? Consider the fact that if you choose a sibling or parent to take on this role, does he or she live in the same province? If the answer is no, are there special requirements or paperwork for that person to fill?
  • Who can you trust to be impartial? Who will follow your wishes? Does this person whom you have chosen to be your Executor have a stake in your Will? Is their judgement skewed in favour of him or her getting more of your estate because of all the extra work they are taking on in their role as Executor?
  • Does the Executor get paid from your Estate? What provincial laws are there regarding this?
  • If you use an independent third-party to be your Executor, such as a bank or a lawyer, how much comes out of your Estate to pay that independent third party? Can you trust this third party to be neutral? See this $4 billion costly mistake JP Morgan made.
  • Just like a Guardian, consider the fact that the person who is not chosen as Executor may take offense.

Some of the most common choices for appointing someone to be an Executor tend to be a spouse, adult child, parent or sibling. This is particularly true in situations where such individuals will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the Estate.