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.

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.

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.

Choosing someone to look after your children when you are gone is obviously a tough decision. Appointing a Guardian in your Will can be one of the toughest decisions to make, and it is not as simple as just choosing mom, dad or a family member to be Guardian of your children. There are many aspects to consider when it comes to appointing a Guardian.  Here are some important issues to consider about selecting a Guardian:

  • Will your spouse be onboard with your choice for Guardian? What happens if you and your spouse sit down to do a Last Will and Testament only to discover that you each want to choose your own set of parents to be Guardians for your children?
  • Will your Guardian outlive you? Many people may choose their own parents as Guardians for their children, but you also have to consider the fact that your own parents may not outlive you. If that is the case, who is really the ideal person to look after your children?
  • If mom and dad are not the best choices as suitable Guardians, you may want to look at family members, such as brothers or sisters to look after your children. Is that something your spouse would want?
  • If you were to choose a relative to look after your children, would your spouse find that person a suitable candidate?
  • Consider what would happen if you picked one person to be Guardian over another, would that offend someone else? Even though you might offend someone, at the end of the day you have to do what is right and choose the person who would be best suited to look after your kids.
  • Does your choice of Guardian have the same religious, cultural and even dietary values as you? Does your Guardian get along well with your children?

These are the biggest questions to consider. It is always best to sit down and have a talk with your spouse before anything is written up or documented in a Will. When you do decide to draft your Last Will and Testament, consider the fact that FormalWill has a system where you can appoint a Guardian and alternate Guardians for your children in your Will. That way you can be assured that there is always someone there to look after your children in the event  that one of your selections for a Guardian are unable to.

Intestacy is dying without a Last Will and Testament. Have you considered what would happen if you died intestate? What would happen to your estate?

Intestacy usually operates as follows (this varies by province or territory):

  • Everything passes on to the spouse and/or children
  • If the deceased had no children, everything passes on to the parents
  • In the event the parents have passed away, everything passes on to the siblings of the deceased
  • In the event no one is left, the government may acquire the remaining assets and estate

You can see where this issue grows complex especially if you have a common-in-law spouse, step parents, siblings and so on. How will a person’s estate and assets be divided up by the courts if you do not have a Will? Even if you believe that your estate and assets are too small to be worth something, the chances are that you at least own some property such as a house, car or have some money in the bank.

Putting a Will in place ensures that your assets and estate go to the people you would prefer.  With a Will you can also make charitable donations and leave things to close friends.  Moreover, what about the pressing issue of a Guardian? Who will raise and look after your children if you are not there?  Importantly, a Will allows you to name the precise people you would trust with being Guardians for your children.

If you still assume everything is going to be fine after you die intestate, the courts still have to step in and administer where all of your stuff goes. That costs money, which will come out of what is left of your estate.   Dealing with an estate where there is no Will is more expensive in terms of legal costs, more complicated, and time-consuming.  

Don’t let your Estate get caught up in expensive, complicated, and lengthy court hearings by not completing your Last Will and Testament.   

If you have a Last Will and Testament (or are thinking about drafting one), then you may be wondering when and how you would go about updating it. People generally think about getting a Will during the biggest changes of their lives. Typically, one would assume that the very first Last Will and Testament a person creates is going to need updates down the road as their life changes. People marry, divorce, have multiple children, etc. and all of those type of changes in a person’s life need to be reflected in a Last Will and Testament. How does one update their Will when necessary?

There are two options to update your Will. One way is to create an entirely brand new Last Will and Testament. The second option is to create a Codicil (an amendment) to your Last Will and Testament. A Codicil would have to be dated, signed and attached to the Will so your Executor knows when the Codicil was created. A Codicil would have to fit seamlessly with the other sections of your Will and avoid any conflicting language. Although some may view a Codicil to be satisfactory for small changes (i.e. changing the amount of money you want to give to a specific person or to a charity), it is generally much better to create a new Last Will and Testament so there is absolutely no confusion or conflict between a Will and a Codicil. This is particularly true if you wish to make multiple changes to your Will.

The good news is that through the use of online Will software, you can create a new Will with the changes you want to it without having to pay for a brand-new Will through a lawyer. Bottom line: Avoid confusion by editing your Will through Will software.

You know about the importance of a Legal Will. You put off thinking about completing your Will, believing that it is something you need to think about later. Or you may also put off drafting a Last Will and Testament because it is too complex and you just do not have the time (or do not want) to think about it.

A simple explanation of a Last Will and Testament is that it is a legal document directing where all of your assets (gifts, charitable donations, etc.) go when you die. Your assets could go to specific individuals or to various organizations, such as charities. While this is a necessary and important document to have, it is estimated that at least 50% of adults do not have one. There are a number of reasons as to why people may not have one, such as: the time it takes to see a lawyer, the cost of seeing a lawyer, or just procrastination. Money and time are often huge factors in putting off a Last Will and Testament. There are, however, inexpensive alternatives to seeing a lawyer. These options include: a) an online Will, b) a holographic Will, or c) a Will kit.

We have previously written about the advantages of creating an online Legal Will; an online Legal Will provides you with the advantage of creating a document through Will software, which is a cheaper and less time consuming alternative to seeing a lawyer. The option to use online Wills are recommended if you do not have a complex estate. It is a preferable method to using a holographic, hand-written Will. An online Will uses technology that guides you through the process the process of creating a Will and reminds you of the important things to include in your Will. If you draw up a hand-written Last Will and Testament, chances are that you will be leaving out many legal issues that need to be addressed.

What is the difference between an Online Will and a Will kit?


So you might ask yourself, what is the difference between an online Will and option c, a Will kit? A Will kit is just that, it is usually a “kit” that you can purchase through a store, and it consists of papers to guide you through the process of creating a Last Will and Testament. The difficulty is that, unlike using online Wills or Will software, a Will kit may not be up to date and additionally, it does not have the benefit of technology that guides you through the process.

It is always best to have a guide through the process of creating a Will. 

online will

You’re most likely familiar with the basics of what a Last Will and Testament is: it is a legal document which ensures that your loved ones are taken care of if anything happens to you.  An online Will (sometimes also known as an online will form) eliminates the need for a lawyer by providing you with the guidance and knowledge you require to complete your Will from your home.

Making a Will online allows you to create your Will by using a will form which guides you through a series of questions and produces your Will for you.  You then print out your Will and follow proper steps regarding witnessing, signing and storage.

One of the great things about online Wills is that you can usually log back in and change your Will easily if your circumstances change.  For example, if you want to change your appointed Executor you can simply log back in to your online Will account, change your Executor, and print out a new Will for signing.  This is much more cost-effective, faster, and efficient than going back to see a lawyer to make a change to your Will.

If you feel that you can answer some straightforward questions and do not require the guidance of a lawyer, then an online Will would work for you. A Will created online carries the same weight as a document created by a lawyer, provided that it follows the same basic required steps (for example, being witnessed and signed by independent witnesses). There is no legal requirement that a lawyer witness or write up your Will.

An online Will would work for you if your estate is fairly straightforward and you do not have complex issues to deal with (e.g. property scattered in several jurisdictions, a multi-million dollar estate, etc.) that may be better dealt with through a lawyer rather than through an online Will form. When you create and print out your online Will, you simply sign off with some independent witnesses and you have completed your Legal Will.