It may seem intimidating to start will and estate planning, but it’s a wise decision that ensures that you get to control your future and the assets you’ve worked for through the years. It also makes things less stressful for any loved ones you may eventually leave behind.
Any wishes and instructions you have for your legacy and assets left behind should be dictated by you. It’s better to plan this ahead since an estate plan has more than just your last will and testament. A proper estate plan will enact your preferences should you be rendered unable to make decisions for yourself under various circumstances.
If you’re going to finally take the right direction and start will and estate planning, make sure you follow these steps along the way.
1. Take Note of All Your Assets
This is the first step, and it will take longer than you might think. People don’t realize just how much stuff they may accumulate over the years. Sort your things out and make an inventory of all your assets. This includes major investments and properties. It can even include smaller items, like gadgets and trinkets.
This helps you take stock of everything and consider who you want to give what to.
2. Don’t Forget Non-Physical Possessions
Many individuals overlook intangible assets, which can be complicated down the line. This is about accounts, copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property and the like. If you have any documents of ownership regarding this, make sure they are kept safe and figure out if you have any person you’d like to bequeath them to.
3. List Down All Your Memberships
It’s a good idea to keep track of memberships, so you know if they have any benefits for family members, generational membership, and life insurance inclusions. On top of that, you can pick an organization you care about and set it as a beneficiary for any posthumous donations.
4. Collect Your Open Debts
If you have any debts you are still paying off, and it’s best to collate the updated information about them. You should compile any documentation and sensitive data. This will be important should any complications arise.
5. Review Retirement Accounts
Whether you are already retired or still building a retirement fund, you’ll want to know about all your account policies. This will affect your will and its beneficiaries.
6. Make Back-Ups
This doesn’t just mean a backup plan (an estate lawyer will likely guide you with anyway). This refers to making copies of all your lists throughout this process. Date and sign these copies and distribute them to your executor, spouse, or trusted beneficiary, then keep one for yourself.
7. Make Sure Your Insurance Is Updated
Check if your insurance still has the right policies and listed beneficiaries you want since this will also tie into your will.
8. Assign Transfer-on-Death Designations
Probate is a stressful and time-consuming part of asset bequeathal. Thankfully, you can help skip this expensive process if you have already set transfer-on-death designations for your assets.
9. Pick Your Executor
This is the person who will be in charge of administering your final wishes and executing your will. Make sure you pick someone you can rely on based on their trustworthiness and level-headedness.
10. Create Your Will
Finally, create or update your will. This will essentially be the bible of your final wishes and legal obligations so that it can prevent a lot of disputes and confusion. If you’re not sure how to write a will, you can get some professional assistance to finalize the document and get it notarized.
Once you’ve got these covered, you should feel more secure moving forward. It’s important to move past the fear and discomfort around the idea of estate planning so that you can be practical. Setting your own goals and wishes in stone legally will be instrumental for both you and your beneficiaries.
Find a quality will and estate lawyer in Kanata with Ontario Wills & Estate Plans. We serve all of Ontario, so book a video conference now.