write a will

Want to know how to write your own Will?  It’s actually more straight-forward than you think.  The following items should be included when you write a Will:

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Location
  3. Listing who your Executors Will be
  4. Specifying how you want to divide up your Estate
  5. Listing your Beneficiaries
  6. Appointing Guardians if you have minor children
  7. Your Signature and Date
  8. The Signatures of your Witnesses

 

The reality is that you know you need to have one, but for various reasons, you keep putting it off. This is usually due to the following: a) a lack of money to see a lawyer b) a lack of time to see a lawyer c) it’s an uncomfortable process to think about. The last reason involves going over some hard but necessary questions to think about.  While you mull over the hard questions to think about, you may also want to consider the alternatives in having a lawyer write your Will out for you. There are a few different options for writing a Will.  One of these is a holographic Will which is a handwritten document created by you outlining where you want your assets and items to go after you have passed on. A handwritten holographic Will can be problematic for several reasons: you may not have included all of the proper items that are needed to write a Will; you may not know the basics on how to validate your Will; you may not understand the legal terminology that goes into writing a Will; and a handwritten Will can lead to disputes surrounding the authentication of your writing.

Other alternatives to write a Will can include a Will kit or online Will software. Using a Will kit, as opposed to Will software, typically involves a blank fill-in-the page Will book. It may be a generic type of one size fits all type of kit which does not address the various situations you may find yourself requiring a Last Will and Testament for. In addition, a Will kit may not be updated with laws and regulations the way online Will software can. In the event of changes to laws, you may find that you have to purchase an updated Will kit to ensure that the Will you create is properly updated.  In contrast, online Will software can be continuously updated using advanced technology.

Using online Will software or an online Will form would provide a better alternative to a generic Will kit. Will software programs can also better guide you through the process of how to make a Will by going through each online page in a clear and readable format. Basic answers to legal terminology is usually available at the click of a button. Will software can help you to write your Will by guiding you through the difficult questions about what would happen if you pass on.  For instance, who would inherit your assets? Who would be your beneficiaries? Do you want to leave any specific gifts to particular individuals? Do you want to leave charitable donations? Do you have a guardian in mind for your minor children? Speaking of which, what about leaving assets in Trust? There are many questions to ponder when it comes to creating a Last Will and Testament. Will software or online Will forms may be the best choice to go with as an alternative to a lawyer.

 

Do you ever fantasize about inheriting millions of dollars from a long-lost uncle and then retiring to a tropical paradise? That’s the fantasy but what is the reality? Assuming your long lost relative has more money than brains, what’s the craziest thing you could inherit? What if you receive something you don’t want? What do you do with it then?

 The top five list below showcases some of the weirdest items left behind in a Last Will and Testament (and alas, none of these beneficiaries presumably were able to just lie about on a sunny beach somewhere).

1. Cringeworthy

This one is a story that will make your skin crawl: in 1871, a man named Solomon Sandborn donated his body to science after his death. Sounds like a worthwhile gesture, doesn’t it? There’s a part in his Last Will that ordered his body to be skinned and made into a set of drums for his friend. The “friend” in turn, was ordered to take the drums up to Bunker Hill, Massachusetts every June 17th at dawn and drum out “Yankee Doodle Dandle.”  Solomon was apparently a patriot who wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the “Battle at Bunker Hill” posthumously.  We’re wondering how enthusiastic the “friend” was and if he ever fulfilled Solomon’s last wishes.

2. Dead Turtles

Just what in the world are you supposed to do with a family of dead turtles? That’s the question that reporter Lois Collins asked herself when she inherited a bunch of dead turtles from her late mother-in-law. Did Collins’ mother-in-law hate her in some way that she just didn’t know about? Collins’ was also told that she should take good care of the turtles so that she could pass them on to her children when they were grown. Collins is probably STILL left wondering why her mother-in-law passed on the dead reptilians to her, and is probably facing some unwanted questions about death. This bequest sure beats money, doesn’t it?

3. Creepy Red Roses

Every woman loves to get beautiful, long-stem roses from the man she loves, but some would argue that this next story is slightly creepy. A comedian by the name of Jack Benny succumbed to cancer in 1974, but not before letting the love of his life know just how much he loved her. Each day for the rest of her life after his passing she received one long red rose everyday. A seemingly romantic gesture, it may be a bit overboard, especially if his wife ever remarried. What do you think?  Creepy or romantic?

 

4. Do ghosts eat?

This is a story about a rich eccentric millionaire: obsessed with the paranormal and the afterlife after his wife and two daughters passed away, John Porter Bowman stipulated in his Last Will and Testament that a $50,000 Trust be setup after his death. The money was to look after his lavish (and empty) 21-room mansion, along with dinner to be served each night in case Bowman ever returned with his wife and daughters. We’re guessing that the ghostly trio never returned, and the dinners stopped as soon as the trust ran out.

5. The Baby “Derby”

Known as the Baby “Derby,” a race among the women of Toronto to have the most children caught the city’s attention after the death of Charles Millar (presumably another eccentric millionaire with too much time on his hands). Millar, who died in 1928, announced that the woman who gave birth to the most children after his death in the preceding 10 years, would be the winner of a good chunk of his sizable assets and estate. In 1938, the City of Toronto announced four winners: four mothers, each with nine children. The winners all received a grand total of $568,106 to be split among the four winners. A prize of $12,500 was doled out to the runner ups.

There you have it! Five of the strangest items you can find in a Last Will and Testament. You probably wouldn’t want to get any of the above listed items nor would you want to be an Executor for any of the people listed above. Think we’ll pass on these: we’re still hoping for the rich uncle to give us a fortune and sip margaritas on the beach!

You may be familiar with Alan Thicke as the star of the 1980’s hit television show, Growing Pains. The beloved Canadian actor passed away in December of 2016 at the age of 69, leaving behind a wife, two ex-spouses, and three children. Much like the battle over the estate of late actor Robin Williams, a contentious battle over the estate of Alan Thicke is heating up in the courts. 

Click here to read more.

The new October 2016 Federal Government Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) rules are causing many Canadians to review and revise existing Wills and Estate Planning strategies according to STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Planners).

To track the capital gains that foreign buyers have been avoiding on the purchase and sale of Canadian residential real estate, the new federal rules have created complications for many Canadians who use Trusts and Qualified Disability Trusts (QDTs) as part of their Legacy planning strategies. (The following points are just some highlights and specific tax and legal advice will be needed for each individual situation.)

Under the new rules, notes Ian Lebane, a tax and estate specialist with TD Wealth Private Client Services, only three types of trusts are eligible to claim the PRE:

  1. Life interest trusts, which generally are trusts that would benefit from a rollover.
  2. Qualified disability trusts.
  3. A trust created for a minor child of the settlor (the person contributing assets or money to the trust, generally a parent).


In addition, the trust will only be eligible if the beneficiary is:

  • A resident in Canada during the year.
  • If the trust acquires property after October 2, 2016, “the terms of the trust must provide the beneficiary with a right to the use and enjoyment of the housing unit as a residence throughout the period in the year in which the trust owns the property.”

Regarding the trust terms, most existing trusts are not currently drafted that way, says Lebane, but for “any wills where the testator is still alive, they need to have that language.” Furthermore, each type of trust has its own beneficiary requirements.

Using one common planning example, where significant problem arise, involves life interest spousal trusts, commonly used in second marriage scenarios. It is only possible to claim the PRE “if the right to occupy is unconditional for the spouse’s lifetime.” Yet many such trusts place conditions on the spouse’s living in the home, such as the right to residency until they remarry or specifying that the spouse must pay for utilities and upkeep.

Even if the right is unconditional, the trust will be offside if it directs sale proceeds of the property to any other beneficiaries while the spouse is still alive.

People can only benefit from one QDT at a time, which can restrict planning. According to Lebane, It is common for one QDT to hold the principal residence and another one to hold the investments, which may force you to choose between using one or the other QDT for maximum tax planning benefits.

Lebane also recommends to use the preferred beneficiary election (PBE) for the investment trust which would allow the trust’s income to be taxed in the disability beneficiary’s hands, while leaving the home to qualify for the PRE.

Yet, in all cases, the beneficiary of a QDT must qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If the intended beneficiary has not yet qualified for the DTC, yet, then you should initiate the process to qualify immediately, says Lebane.

Finally, in the case of minor child trusts, the new PRE rules are problematic. Current trusts often provide for the use of the residence if they are under age 18, but under the new rules, once a child turns 18 and leaves home to attend post-secondary schooling, the trust now becomes ineligible for the PRE, says Lebane. A valuable asset such as the family home can be a big responsibility for an adult child to own outright and may thwart the planning intentions of the deceased parents.

Another wrinkle, says Lebane, is the minor child trust is ineligible for the PRE if one parent is still alive, “regardless of the relationship with the child. The options for trusts for minor children are now quite narrow”, he says.

It is important for all Canadians to review their current Wills and Estate plans to ensure that the proper wording is incorporated within those documents to avoid taxes being charged on, what used to be totally tax exempt, principal residence.

Article provided by Iftikhar Mahmood. CFP.

He can be reached at iftikhar@createwealth.ca.

Certified Financial Planner, createwealth planning; Focused on the growth – and preservation – of your wealth

Please note: this article is not a substitute for legal advice. This article only provides general information which you may find helpful. You may wish to consult with a qualified professional financial or legal advisor, as appropriate.

Prince Rogers Nelson


The death of Prince should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the news. What may come as a surprise is that Prince’s fortune had dwindled from an estimated $300 million to a mere $150 million. Not only is that amount surprising but the fact that Prince (who no doubt had access to many lawyers and financial advisers) did not leave behind a Last Will and Testament is rather shocking.

Or is it? We’ve all heard the stories of many celebrities who have died without a Will; other celebrities in the past (i.e. Amy Winehouse) have died without a Last Will and Testament. The death of celebrities intestate have lead to family squabbling, hefty estate taxes and extra administration on the part of these loved ones. It’s appearing that way with Prince’s siblings, as their initial meeting after their brother’s death did not go well; tensions were in the air as the siblings allegedly squabbled and yelled among each other as to how the assets and estate of Prince should be divided.

Read more about  Prince’s Legacy and Fortune.

 

Prince Rogers Nelson

The musical icon known as Prince passed away on April 21st 2016 at the age of 57. Prince Rogers Nelson died intestate (without a Will) at his home at Paisley Park in Minnesota. The estimated $150 million dollar fortune left behind by the mogul is now currently up in the air, as Minnesota inheritance laws will determine who the fortunate recipient will be.

Initially valued at $300 million, Prince’s fortunes have dwindled away over the years, possibly due as some would suggest, to a lack of high-powered attorneys and a constant rotation of financial advisers to look after his affairs.

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Celebrity wills


After the death of late comedian Robin Williams in 2014, there was an ongoing battle over his $100 million-dollar estate between his wife and three children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody. The contents of his legal Will and his estate had been fought over in an continuing dispute which has seen no resolution until very recently.

Some highlights to note over the court’s decision regarding William’s estate and assets are:

A) William’s wife, Susan, retains ownership of their home in Tiburon, California
B) William’s children have acquired ownership of William’s memorabilia and awards, along with other (unnamed) items

You can read more HERE.


We’ve previously written about a few famous singers who have succumbed to illness or have died in the past few years or so. This next singer is no exception.  Although not as famous as her peers in the music industry, Amy Winehouse proved herself to be an exceptional songstress with a beautiful voice. She passed away at the age of 27 in 2011 from an overdose. 

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