Will planning

Will planning to meet your estate needs

Many people recognize that a Will is an essential component of the estate-planning process but they fail to give this subject the time or consideration that it requires. It is important to remember that a properly structured Will is generally the most effective way to make sure that your estate assets will be managed and distributed according to your wishes.

Although there are many do-it-yourself Will kits and software packages available in the marketplace today, this is one area where you are strongly urged to seek assistance from a legal professional. If your affairs are complex, then you should also make sure that this is someone who specializes in estate matters.

The following are some things you should know about Wills:

  • If you die without a Will, you die "intestate", and your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy in your province. These laws are inflexible and could cause unforeseen problems and undesirable consequences.
  • In your Will, you can leave assets outright to your beneficiaries with no strings attached. Another alternative is to control and distribute assets via a "testamentary trust".
  • You can name one or more executors and you can also name alternate executors in the event an executor is either unable or unwilling to act.
  • Non-professional executors may wish to perform the bulk of their executor duties on their own, or else they may prefer to assume a more supervisory role.
  • Your Will must be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses. The witnesses are not to include a beneficiary of the Will or a spouse of a beneficiary.
  • Your Will only comes into effect at your death and you can alter it as often as you wish, as long as you are mentally competent to do so.
  • You are advised to leave the original of your Will in safekeeping with your legal advisor or in a safety deposit box, however, you may wish to have photocopies available with instructions as to the location of the original.

In no way is this article intended to replace the advice of a legal professional. It merely aims to give you a basic overview of some of the major issues that you may wish to consider before you meet with your legal advisor. If you do not yet have a valid Will, or if you have a Will but you suspect that it may need review, take steps to address the situation without delay.

Use our Find An AdvisorOpens a new window in your browser. tool to locate a CIBC Wood Gundy Investment Advisor near you and take the first step to achieving the financial future you want.

Prepare Your Will

The cornerstone of an estate plan is an up-to-date Will. Your Will can be a simple or complex legal document. Once prepared, it should be reviewed regularly, since changes to legislation and personal life events can alter your objectives.

A Will appoints your executors who will carry out your instructions. Among other things, a Will names your beneficiaries who will receive your assets, directs the distribution of your assets, appoints guardians for minors and may also include provisions for trusts.

If you die without a Will, you are said to have died intestate. This situation can result in a loss of control of assets, and may require a longer period to settle your estate. Without proper instructions, your family's heirlooms and assets may not be bequeathed according to your wishes.

In the absence of a Will, your assets will be divided according to provincial legislation. Don't hinder the settling of your estate - prepare a Will.

Estate planning is more than simply writing a Will, although a Will is an important step. It provides a framework to ensure the distribution of your assets to your heirs in a timely and tax-efficient manner. Your legal advisor can assist you in reviewing your Will to ensure it will achieve your goals. A CIBC Wood Gundy Investment Advisor can assist you in establishing estate planning strategies to accomplish your needs and goals.

Use our Find An AdvisorOpens a new window in your browser. tool to locate a CIBC Wood Gundy Investment Advisor near you and take the first step to achieving the financial future you want.