If you’re reading this article, you’re probably thinking about creating a Will, and you may be weighing your options. There are different ways to create your Will: you can use a DIY Will kit from a store, a hand-written Will, or you can use online Will software. Creating a Will may appear daunting at first, and you may not know how to go through the entire process. But once you choose the best option to create your Will, it becomes easier.

The basics of a Will encompass the following: all of things in your estate (any property, savings, investments, charities, gifts, etc.), specific gifts you are leaving behind to various individuals of your choosing, guardianship, leaving items in trust, and any charitable donations you may want to leave behind. Those are the types of things you want to think about while creating a Will. Drafting a Will includes the following information about you: your Executor and your relationship to the person (the Executor  distributes your assets to your beneficiaries), a Guardian for any underage children, and if you want a Trust for said underage children. For instance, if you bequeath a house or a cottage to your spouse, who would inherit that piece of property if your spouse dies and you are not around?

When it comes to online Wills, it’s an inexpensive alternative to using a lawyer, who may charge hundreds (or potentially more) to draft up your Will. There are options to assist you with Will creation, but you want to make sure that the software you are thinking of using is comprehensive and fits your needs. You may want to first start by writing a list of items you own (your inventory list). Once that is complete, you may want to look at what type of software you’re looking to get: are you looking to get a CD-ROM do-it-yourself Will kit, or use an online software? Either choice may work for you, but keep in mind that the first option may be outdated. It is not unusual for people to complain that the CD-rom Will software they purchased is outdated for their operating system. An online type of software for Wills, on the other hand, is easier to update. If you use online software, you have a better chance of having a Will that is current.

If the software you have chosen is entirely online, you can usually test it out to see if it works for you. You may either have to create an online account (you can usually do this for free), or you can just jump right into the online Will order form. Creating an account may keep the information more secure. You will want to use a software that is more comprehensive than a simplistic blank-fill-in-the-form template; it should guide you through the process of creating a Will online. For instance, the online Will order form should explain legal terminology, guide you through the process of creating a Will (e.g. explaining the order of how things need to be filled out), help you through the important questions  to  answer (i.e. personal information, information about your Executor, the beneficiaries of your estate, specific gifts you are leaving behind, charitable donations, Guardian(s), and if you would like to setup any trusts for said underage children.

All of this shows that you may want to use inexpensive software to create your Will if you want a comprehensive document. If you want legal advice, you may want to seek out a lawyer to draft up your Will. However, using a software for Wills may be best if you have a straightforward situation. If you’re looking for an option to create a will online, you may want to try FormalWill.

You’re probably familiar with a Last Will and Testament and what it is supposed to do, but do you know what a Living Will is and what it does? Although these are two different (yet equally important) documents, both have an important role in estate planning.

We’re often asked what the difference is between a Last Will and a Living Will (people sometimes conflate the two documents as being the same). A Last Will and Testament is a document which looks after matters relating to your estate, assets and other particulars. This document allows you to appoint an individual as your Executor (or Trustee) to disperse your estate, assets and other particulars when you pass. It also allows you to appoint a Guardian for your underage children, leave behind specific gifts, and instruct how you want your charitable donations to be dispersed. It also has to be witnessed and signed correctly. This document only becomes enforced after you pass on.

 A Living Will, on the other hand, activates while you are alive. It is an equally important document, relating to matters regarding your health and how you want to be treated for your medical matters. This includes: appointing someone to speak on your behalf (if you are unable); your life support options; specifying your wishes on organ donation; DNR clauses; your thoughts on various medical treatments; detailing what your Attorney (the person who is appointed by you to speak on your behalf) can and cannot do, and specifying if the individual whom you have appointed to speak on your behalf is liable for anything.  The name of this specific individual you have appointed may vary from province to province (in some provinces, he or she may be known as a “proxy”). A Living Will has to be properly witnessed and signed, the same way a Last Will and Testament has to be properly witnessed and signed, in order to be valid. The requirements for making a Living Will valid may vary from province to province, so it’s important to follow all of the instructions as provided. You can create your Living Will using online software. These are two different documents. We often have people who confuse the two documents as being the same. People are not always aware that the documents are different. 

A Living Will would come into effect only if you become incapacitated or unable to speak on your behalf. If, for instance, you are in a coma or are experiencing the effects of Alzheimers, your “Attorney” will express your wishes through the document you have created. He or she will convey your wishes to the doctors looking after you.  Essentially, a Living Will (much like that of a Last Will), speaks for you when you cannot.

A Living Will should also not be confused with that of a Power of Attorney; both documents activate while you are alive, and while one is related to matters regarding your health, the other (a Power of Attorney) is related to your finances.

A Living Will can also be changed and modified while you alive. It should be periodically looked over and updated as your life circumstances change. Living Wills and Last Wills do not expire, so if you want to make changes to your document, be sure to update them both as you see fit.

Creating a Will by yourself does not have to be an overwhelming and complicated process; it does not require too much effort and time on your part, if you know where to look for help.  People who want to create a Will sometimes have difficulty going through a lawyer, because they dislike the thought of discussing their personal matters with a stranger. If you do decide to create a Will, you do not want to wait and rush things to the last minute. We have found that sometimes, for those who decide to create a Will by themselves, they rush the process, and complete their Will just prior to a major event or a trip. You obviously do not want to do that; you want to take your time. 

Your Will encompasses all of your assets and your entire estate, which includes: your property, jewelry, gifts, and all of your other particulars. You may want to start with an inventory list of all of your items, and periodically look over your list to see what changes need to be added or removed to your list. You may want to type (rather than handwrite), your inventory list, to better manage any changes further down the road. When it comes to the actual creation of the Will itself, people sometimes decide to do a holographic (hand-written) Will, but that may not be a good idea for a number of reasons: 1) You may not know about everything that goes into your Will. A Will not only encompasses your assets and estate, but it also covers who you are appointing as your Executor (the person who is responsible for dispersing your assets), any gifts you want to leave behind, your beneficiaries/alternate beneficiaries (the people who are getting all of your stuff when you pass away), charitable items, guardians for your kids, a trust for your underage child, etc. Hand-writing a Will may not be a good idea for an individual who does not know much about writing a Will or what goes into it. 2) You may not know about the procedure about what happens next, after you complete your Will. How do you make your Will legally binding? In short, you most likely want a document that covers just about everything for your Will. That can all be covered through online software. There are options to create your Will through online software, such as FormalWill. It takes the guess work out of creating your Will on your own. 

You can create your Will through FormalWill in just three easy steps: 1) Create your account, 2) Enter your information into the online Will order form, and 3) Pay at the end and receive both your Will and signing instruction letter. FormalWill simplifies the entire process for you, and makes your life easier. This may be an option for you when you decide on the best way to create a Will. 

We have previously posted about the reasons as to why many put off completing a Will. One reason has to do with the fact that people are wary of discussing their personal matters with a lawyer. Many are unaware that they can, in fact, draft up a Will without a lawyer. You do not need a lawyer to create a Will for you, and if your estate and assets are straightforward, you can draft a Will yourself using online will software.

If you choose to create a Will without a lawyer, you may want to think about what goes  into your Will, including the following: a clause revoking former Wills and testaments, specification of your city/town, appointing an executor or person who will carry out the terms of your Will, appointing alternate executor(s), etc. You also want to ensure that you have a fairly good idea as to where your assets, estate, gifts, charitable donations, etc., are all going to go. In addition, you want to have a good idea as to who the potential Guardian of your underage children will be. This can be done through online Will software, without a lawyer. If you feel you require legal advice, however, you may want assistance from a lawyer.

If you choose to create a Will without a lawyer, you need to initialize and sign the document in the correct places. You may want to have two independent witnesses localized within your area to witness and sign in the document in the correct places as well. That is all you require to make your Legal Will valid, without a lawyer. Notarizing documents is a question that often arises as well; people question if they need to have their Will notarized by a lawyer. Notarization is essentially a seal or a stamp on your document, which  shows that the document is authentic. Notarization may only be necessary for a Power of Attorney and it is not necessary for a Last Will and Testament.  How are these documents different from a Last Will and Testament? A  Power of Attorney is a document that deals with your financial matters while you are alive, and a Living Will deals with your health matters while you are alive. Both documents are vastly different from a Will, which only deals with matters relating to your estate/assets AFTER your death. Unlike a Will, a Power of Attorney may require notarization, but all three documents can be created without a lawyer present. Again, if you require legal advice, you may want to seek the assistance of a lawyer.

Those are the basic items you need to know about creating a Will without a lawyer, how to make a Will valid, what notarization entails, and what the difference is between a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Living Will.