Personal Finance

Writing a Will

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  • Aug 17th, 2022 7:48 am
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Aug 6, 2008
188 posts
244 upvotes

Writing a Will

Hi, tried searching, but because of the word "will" is so generic, nothing came up about a will.
Anyways, my wife and I are looking to make a will. Any tips or resources that would make the process smooth and cost effective?
75 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 19, 2010
3016 posts
1498 upvotes
We did our will/Power of Attorney at the same time.

Some tips:
1) Use words like "children" or of the same. This way if you have more than one child....you won't have to redo your will.
2) If you have kids (ensure those you are giving custody to should something happen to both you agree to it...choose his person wisely)
3) Go through a reputable lawyer....those online kits are a gimmick in my opinion
4) We set ours up so that our kids wouldn't be able to touch their inheritance, should something happen to my wife and I until they turn 23 (done post secondary school)...however, their care giver can draw from a trust to provide financial support/cost of living for them as they see fit.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 21, 2018
7551 posts
8126 upvotes
Vancouver
Don't write your own will or use a self-help will service. Spend a few hundred dollars and get a professional to do it.

While writing your own will is legal if done correctly, there are a lot of potential complications, and this is a case where you don't know what you don't know.

While acting as executor for parents, I found that having a formal will drawn up and stamped by a lawyer was a big plus in dealing with the massive bureaucracy of banks, financial institutions, government agencies, service companies etc.. Without that everyone drags their feet while they send your will off for legal review.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 1, 2015
1637 posts
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NOYFB
Yes .. I recommend using a lawyer as well.. but if you want to DIY the keywords would be "canadian will sample"

Good luck
plz don't touch my signature.

don't make me less of a human just cause i don't share your "idiotologies".

👮‍♂️👮‍♀️lives matter
Deal Fanatic
Jul 1, 2007
8539 posts
1697 upvotes
Good recommendations here. In general, don't skimp on the will. If your estate might be complex, don't hesitate to spend a few thousand! Costs to your estate just in terms of unnecessary taxation, probate fees, or litigation will far eclipse the cost of a proper will if things aren't done right.
Money Smarts Blog wrote: I agree with the previous posters, especially Thalo. {And} Thalo's advice is spot on.
Deal Addict
Nov 13, 2013
3798 posts
2355 upvotes
Ottawa
Thalo wrote: Good recommendations here. In general, don't skimp on the will. If your estate might be complex, don't hesitate to spend a few thousand! Costs to your estate just in terms of unnecessary taxation, probate fees, or litigation will far eclipse the cost of a proper will if things aren't done right.
Everyone says spend a few thousand but if young think of the life insurance you could buy for few thousand. If you are young and healthy the chance you will die before the will becomes redundant is very low so spending a few thousand to even save $20,000 later is not a good investment. I have seen lots of self written wills without any complications so doubt for the vast majority of people a properly written will is going to save that much. There are a few common errors which a good financial blog post about wills in Canada will cover. Often around who should get what to avoid taxes and probate.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 15, 2017
5230 posts
5267 upvotes
Ottawa
If you have a complex estate (multiple investments or a business for instance) or a complex personal life (blended families or family members that you wish to leave nothing) then the best advice is to go to a lawyer.

If yours is a simple situation - basically everything to my spouse and should spouse predecease then to children, you may want to check out epilogue wills. This is an online will kit service for simple estates. It keeps it simple by not allowing you very many options. The less options the less chance for you to screw it up.

My wife and I are in the final stages of closing up my BIL's estate and one thing we have learned is that it is crucial to have everything set up properly in advance. Make sure that all accounts that need beneficiaries have them properly added. Make sure that there is an easily accessible listing of all assets and liabilities. Make sure that if you have life insurance and pension plans that it is noted somewhere. Make sure that there is a list of all creditors readily available. Make sure that there is some cash readily available so that the surviving spouse can continue to live when bank accounts are frozen.
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
2362 posts
3082 upvotes
fogetmylogin wrote: Everyone says spend a few thousand but if young think of the life insurance you could buy for few thousand. If you are young and healthy the chance you will die before the will becomes redundant is very low so spending a few thousand to even save $20,000 later is not a good investment. I have seen lots of self written wills without any complications so doubt for the vast majority of people a properly written will is going to save that much. There are a few common errors which a good financial blog post about wills in Canada will cover. Often around who should get what to avoid taxes and probate.
A straight-forward will should not be a "few thousand" - more like $1000. But, yes, I had a self-written will up to a few years ago, which is fine, if you can understand legal language. I would NOT recommend it though as those errors and accounting questions are not going to be answered well by blogs UNLESS you know what you don't know (an impossibility).
Deal Addict
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Oct 27, 2004
1303 posts
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I have a very simple estate: my primary residence, a few dollars in the bank, and whatever chattel is in the house. My PoA requirements are simple, and I wanted to leave behind DNR instructions.

OM Company online will was perfect for me and my family. There was a thread on here a couple years ago with some promo codes.

If your needs are basic, an online will kit should suffice. If you have a complicated estate, you likely already have a lawyer on some sort of retainer so use that firm to draw it up.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 21, 2018
7551 posts
8126 upvotes
Vancouver
Password wrote: I have a very simple estate: my primary residence, a few dollars in the bank, and whatever chattel is in the house. My PoA requirements are simple, and I wanted to leave behind DNR instructions.

OM Company online will was perfect for me and my family. There was a thread on here a couple years ago with some promo codes.

If your needs are basic, an online will kit should suffice.
It's easy to think that, but three counter-points:

1. The legal situation can be complex for wills and inheritance, thanks to lawyers and government bureaucracies who have complicated things. You may think that your situation is simple, but you don't know everything that might affect you unless you have consulted a professional in the field.

2. If there is any kind of dispute, possibly from a totally unexpected source, things get real complex, real fast, and every aspect of the will and other arrangements may be scrutinized by professionals looking for any weakness.

3. Even if no such complication arises, banks and other institutions don't like to see do-it-yourself wills because they don't know what pitfalls such a will may contain for them if any mistakes have been made. To cover their asses, they will send it away for legal review before they will do anything - and in the current COVID-19 climate that could take a very long time. If the will has been drawn up and stamped by a lawyer, they will generally accept it.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 12, 2009
5432 posts
2929 upvotes
Toronto
skeet50 wrote: If you have a complex estate (multiple investments or a business for instance) or a complex personal life (blended families or family members that you wish to leave nothing) then the best advice is to go to a lawyer.

If yours is a simple situation - basically everything to my spouse and should spouse predecease then to children, you may want to check out epilogue wills. This is an online will kit service for simple estates.
Thanks for posting this, Epilogue Wills seemed overly simplistic in their explanations.

I'm surprised that someone has not written a book about things to consider before talking to a lawyer. Given that it is recommended that everyone have a will, there is an unfilled market niche for something that will get the conversation going. Any suggestions?
Member
Mar 13, 2012
348 posts
117 upvotes
Sarnia
ROYinTO wrote: Thanks for posting this, Epilogue Wills seemed overly simplistic in their explanations.

I'm surprised that someone has not written a book about things to consider before talking to a lawyer. Given that it is recommended that everyone have a will, there is an unfilled market niche for something that will get the conversation going. Any suggestions?

Check out Self-Counsel Press Complete Canadian Wills Kit
Deal Fanatic
Jan 15, 2017
5230 posts
5267 upvotes
Ottawa
ROYinTO wrote: Thanks for posting this, Epilogue Wills seemed overly simplistic in their explanations.

I'm surprised that someone has not written a book about things to consider before talking to a lawyer. Given that it is recommended that everyone have a will, there is an unfilled market niche for something that will get the conversation going. Any suggestions?
As were were Estate Administrators, we found this book How Executors Avoid Personal Liability an excellent read. It helped clarify our role and expectations and helped highlight some of the common misconceptions that many have regarding estates. The author is a NL Wills and Estate Lawyer with a wonderful blog (Estate Law Canada) that also provides a lot of free practical advice and guidance.

The hard part isn't writing the will or POA. The difficult part is preparing everything so your Executor is able to quickly start work. For instance, my BIL was on long term disability for most of his life. When my wife went through his wallet, she found a union membership card. I reached out to the union and eventually discovered that he was still an active member and had a fully funded pension that formed part of his estate. I also had to track down the collective agreement from his previous employer and when I reached out to them discovered that there was a life insurance policy also available. We spent months rebuilding his history and putting out feelers to get an accurate picture of the overall estate.
Deal Addict
Jun 12, 2008
1492 posts
1021 upvotes
Ripley
If you have minor children you need a lawyer. Guardianship is very important and you do not want fights among family members if they don't like who you chose.

Make sure you have a will, power of attorney and power of care included.
Deal Addict
Oct 24, 2010
2565 posts
2517 upvotes
Ottawa
zeddy wrote: If you have minor children you need a lawyer. Guardianship is very important and you do not want fights among family members if they don't like who you chose.

Make sure you have a will, power of attorney and power of care included.
We are just looking into getting a will written up, and this is our big consideration. IF we were to both die now, our estate would be worth over $1 million ... and we have a 2 year old.

1. What happens if we both die?
2. What happens if we're incapacitated?
3. How is the money given to our kid(s) upon our death? I understand that setting up ironclad trusts with a lot of conditions can also be pretty pricey.
4. What happens if the person we appoint as trustee has died before we had a chance to update the will?
5. What happens to the house?
6. What happens if we complete our will before we have that 2nd kid we've been trying to conceive for a year?

We want to make sure we cover all the contingencies so that we don't have to update the will every couple of years.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 1, 2007
8539 posts
1697 upvotes
fogetmylogin wrote: Everyone says spend a few thousand but if young think of the life insurance you could buy for few thousand. If you are young and healthy the chance you will die before the will becomes redundant is very low so spending a few thousand to even save $20,000 later is not a good investment. I have seen lots of self written wills without any complications so doubt for the vast majority of people a properly written will is going to save that much. There are a few common errors which a good financial blog post about wills in Canada will cover. Often around who should get what to avoid taxes and probate.
Wasn't directed at young people. You might be surprised how many people in their 50s and 60s skimp on will planning.
Money Smarts Blog wrote: I agree with the previous posters, especially Thalo. {And} Thalo's advice is spot on.
Deal Addict
Jan 31, 2007
4828 posts
4840 upvotes
Richmond Hill
I got one done about 5 years back, with a lawyer that is specialize in will. Not expensive, just couple hundred dollars.

It is actually will for me and my wife together, very simple.
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Bright side of RFD: Often find good deal
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Deal Addict
Apr 5, 2017
1007 posts
216 upvotes
Ok I'm gonna do our will and POA with a law firm but then where do I register it or save it ? I have heard of some government authorities will take care of our will, if we pay some money in Ontario, any idea ?
Sr. Member
Apr 16, 2015
976 posts
1261 upvotes
Your lawyers will keep the original in their safe and you will get a copy (which will have the lawyer's contact info). We did ours a few years ago and I believe it was under $500 (for 2 wills & POAs).
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 27, 2004
49988 posts
14029 upvotes
ONTARIO
fogetmylogin wrote: Everyone says spend a few thousand but if young think of the life insurance you could buy for few thousand. If you are young and healthy the chance you will die before the will becomes redundant is very low so spending a few thousand to even save $20,000 later is not a good investment. I have seen lots of self written wills without any complications so doubt for the vast majority of people a properly written will is going to save that much. There are a few common errors which a good financial blog post about wills in Canada will cover. Often around who should get what to avoid taxes and probate.
Or cheap axess law will and poa. My parents got theirs done @ a walmart axess law kiosk.

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