Steps to Take When Filing a Will

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As with being born and having to pay taxes, we all face the prospect of our own death. Unless felled by accident at an early age, one of the most important things to take into consideration when dying, or in preparation of death, is to make things easier on those you leave behind by having a proper last will and testament prepared.

A last will and testament should be considered once marriage or a full-time career has entered your life. Thinking of your loved ones, favourite charities, church and especially children, the idea is to make your death a lot less stressful and worrisome on your loved ones.

The top steps to take before filing a will include, but are not limited to, the following;

A complete accounting of your assets. This includes all of your real estate holdings, life insurance policies, automobile(s), boat(s), financial investments (including RRSPs, home equity, stocks and bonds, CPP and other retirement savings and portfolios), debts and any other assets or liabilities.\n\nAssign a trustee. A trustee, or executor, is the person who you assign to carry out the instructions held in your last will and testament. This can include the distribution of assets, the preparation of the funeral and care of your body (death announcement, funeral, services, cremation and disposition of your final remains) and distribution of your assets to those mentioned in your will by following your instructions contained in your will. Ensure that the person you select to be your will's trustee is okay with being appointed as such before assigning them.\n\nConstruct a list of relatives, friends and charities (churches are included in charities) that you want certain percentages of your assets left to after your death. This can include your spouse, children, siblings, parents and in-laws, charities you're supportive of, and any other people or organizations that you want to leave some of your accumulated wealth to.\n\nFinal wishes for your bodily remains. If you want to be interred in a tomb, a grave marked with a simple marker or extravagant headstone, or have your body cremated and your ashes scattered over your favourite lake, ski hill, ocean vista or other favourite place, ensure that this is clearly marked in your last will and testament. Otherwise, you may have some relatives bickering over what should be done with your remains, and inevitably some will harbour ill feelings towards those who've won the "internment sweepstakes" (those who live nearest to your interred remains).\n\nFollow ups. After having your last will and testament written up, signed and witnessed, you will have to make changes to it as your life unfolds. Divorces, new marriages, new children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, favorite charities or new churches may raise the need to change your will, to either include new entries to your will, or have some taken out of it.\n\nOf course, the best thing to do when compiling your last will and testament is to contact a law firm that specializes in such matters. They know the current rules and regulations regarding wills and how they may affect you and those you may have left behind. It is, after all, better to be safe than sorry, and in the case of a final will, once dead there is nothing you can do to change its contents, or how it's executed.