For most of us, spring cleaning means a chance to declutter, downsize and simplify. It’s about new beginnings and fresh starts and there’s definitely a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes with checking off each item on the to-do list.
So, what’s on your spring to-do list? Because if you don’t have a will, writing one needs to be at the top of that list. Cleaning the windows or purging the garage may feel like important to-dos, but making sure your affairs are in order when you die is more important. If you think you don’t need a will because maybe you have few assets, no children or a kind and thoughtful family who will sort out your affairs on your behalf, you’re wrong. Dying without a will is more problematic than you think. Writing a will isn’t overly time-consuming; dying without a will is for those you leave behind. And, more importantly, the cost of dying without a will is huge compared to the cost of writing a will while you’re alive.
To get you started, here’s what you need to add to your spring cleaning checklist.
- Take inventory of your stuff. Writing a will means first taking inventory of your property — and not just your real estate property but everything from jewellery to china, art to family heirlooms and any items that have sentimental value. Then decide who is going to get what.
- Choose an executor. This is the person who will wind up your affairs. It could be a family member or a friend. The person you choose must be trustworthy and organized and ready and able to act immediately following your death. (A tip for choosing the right executor: it’s simpler if the person lives in the same country as you.) Also, talk to that person and make sure they are willing to take on the job.
- Make a list of where to find everything. You may know where everything is, but do your family members and executor? Write a list of important information including passwords to all accounts, banking information and how to access your safety deposit box.
- Decide how immediate expenses will be paid. Immediately after your death, your family will have to pay for your funeral, amongst other potential expenses (e.g. taxes or medical bills). Figure out exactly how those will be paid and consider separating those funds from your estate.
- Talk to your family. Your will and your plans for your will should not be a secret. Make sure your family knows your wishes. Also make sure they know where to find your will when you die.
Now that you have a check list of what to do, it’s time to write that will. Get in touch today with your questions. Do you have an existing will and you’re not sure it reflects your current situation? Our $499 will review can help.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. It is not intended to replace actual legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.