Families are full of varying opinions and wishes. Many of which do not agree with each other. At any age, a Will is good to make your wishes clear. Leaving these decisions up to loved ones and family can cause problems within the family structure. Common law spouses may not have the voice you want if direct family steps in. Young or old, you should have something in writing. As we age, our situations, our lifestyles, and our wishes change. Your Will should change as much as you do.
Within the framework of group benefits, some employees have:
- Life Insurance
- Optional Insurance
- Critical Illness
Many of these hold funds that could go to the people or organizations of your choosing when you pass. Without a Will or named beneficiaries in writing, these funds will go to your Estate.
Simply put, an Estate is the collection of all your property and assets. Your Estate is subject to estate taxes and probate fees. This process takes time and can reduce the resulting funds significantly while insurance products bypass estate taxes and probate fees. Therefore, it is vital to name and update your beneficiary and contingent beneficiaries.
In your Will, you can assign Life Insurance funds to offset costs, such as your mortgage or taxes. Beneficiaries, within an insurance policy, are private unlike those in a Will. A Will becomes a public document upon your death. All the more reason to have your beneficiaries mentioned in your Life Insurance policies. All other wishes you should outline in your Will. The wording of a Will is important for clarity. It is beneficial to engage the services of a lawyer to frame your wishes using the proper language.
* For complex situations that require detailed instructions, you might need a trust to protect those around you. This is a private document, as well.
Life has a way of changing in the blink of an eye. With all these changes, it is easy to forget that your Will needs to change with them.
Changes that might affect your Will include the following.
New marriage: It is important to add your new spouse as your beneficiary and update any address changes. This might also mean a name change for parents. If a beneficiary gets married and changes their surname or address, you must update your Will to reflect that change. Now that you have merged families, you may want to consider extending your Will to include new family members.
New baby/Graduation: It is only logical to add a new dependent to your policies and Will. In your Will, you can set certain stipulations on when and how your dependents can access and use those funds. Every child is different. Therefore, you can structure the distribution of funds differently for each dependent. You can also reserve funds for the continued education of a new graduate or a business start-up for a young entrepreneur. If you decide to release the money gradually, you can allocate the unused portion into an investment, such as a Segregated Fund or a long-term GIC, so that it may increase in the interim.
Check out this article about distributions for young beneficiaries: https://www.allaboutestates.ca/strategies-for-distributions-for-young-beneficiaries/
Questions to consider and address:
- Do you have proper Mortgage Insurance in place?
- How will your family pay undue taxes?
- Will your family be able to sell it?
- Will it stay in the family?
- Who will own it?
- Is it paid off?
Questions to consider and address:
- Do you have Key-man Insurance to protect your key people?
- How should they manage or distribute clients?
- Do you have (a) business partner(s)?
- Will your successor be able to sell it?
- Who will be in charge?
- Seek a lawyer’s advice and expertise. They can provide the precise wording required.
- Be clear about your wishes. Think of the possible situations and the outcomes you would want.
- Update your beneficiaries. Name, address, and contact information should all be current.
- Stay on top of changes. Your latest Will is still valid, even if it is 10+ years old.
- Add addendums. You do not need to rewrite your entire Will when something changes.
- Make it official. Sign it, with two witnesses, whom you did not include in your Will, present.
Have a question? Or need clarification?
Call to schedule an appointment with one of our advisors.