Toronto Wills and Estates Lawyer (Part 2): What information should I gather to prepare my Will?

Michael CarabashPlease note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice with respect to a Will, you should seek professional assistance (e.g. make a post on Dynamic Legal Forms). We have Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Brampton, Mississauga and other Ontario lawyers registered to help you prepare and draft a Will.

In this blog, I’ll be writing about what information you will need to gather when preparing to have your Will drafted.

In preparing your Will, you should gather some important and relevant personal and financial information. This information, which can be provided in the form of a checklist, will help the drafter tailor your Will to meet your needs. Having this information conveniently available alongside the Will can also benefit your trustee and beneficiaries, who won’t have to be looking for hidden or hard to find assets and liabilities after you die. The following basic information should be included in the checklist:

  • Personal Information: name, address, date of birth, marital status (past and present), residency, previous Will, marriage contract, etc.;
  • Family and Dependent Information: names, addresses, dates of birth of spouse(s), children, and dependents, etc.;
  • Professional Advisors: names and addresses of lawyer, accountant, investment advisor, life insurance agent, etc.;
  • Income Information: amount of annual income from all sources (e.g. employment, business, rent, royalties, etc.);
  • Assets: bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, real estate, life insurance, annuities, RRSPs, RIFs, pensions, investments, business interests, debts owing from third parties, automobiles/boats/recreational vehicles, machinery/tools/equipment, household goods and furniture, etc.; and
  • Liabilities: mortgages, loans, credit card balances, etc.

Once these details have been gathered, the next step is for you to outline the instructions for your Will. To start, the following questions will need to be answered with respect to disposing of personal effects and the residue of your estate:

  • How do you want your personal effects and estate residue to be disposed of with respect to your surviving spouse and children (if applicable)?
  • How is the distribution to be effected (i.e. who does it and when can they do it; for example, the estate trustee can, in their sole and absolute discretion, effect the disposition of personal effects)?
  • How is your real estate to be handled?
  • How is your share of family business to be disposed of?
  • Would you like to create a spousal trust, whereby your surviving spouse can live off of the income generated by the residue of your estate until he or she passes away, in which case, the residue is distributed among the beneficiaries (e.g. the children?)?
  • What kinds of powers do you want your estate trustee to have with respect to you personal effects (e.g. power to sell, power to invest, power to distribute proceeds, power to loan funds to beneficiaries or others, power to take reasonable compensation from the residue of the estate, etc.) and assets?
  • Do you want to have special clauses dealing with minors (e.g. property relating to minors, a trust relating to minors, guardians of minor’s property, etc.)?
  • What kind of funeral do you want to have?
  • Do you wish to donate your organs?
  • How are disputes to be handled (e.g. arbitration, mediation, court, etc.)?

These and other questions will need to be answered before your Will can be properly drafted.

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