Everything you need to know about wills.

At JMH & Co. we appreciate that as we grow older, the importance of having a will also grows. If you are unsure of where to start or what you need to have in place, we have the information to help guide you.

What is a will?

Simply put, a will is a legal document that states how you wish your property and assets to be handled after your death.

You are probably wondering,

  1. How do you prepare a will?
  2. What different types of wills are there?
  3. Who executes the will?
  4. Do I need a will?

How should you prepare a will?

The easiest way to create a will is to pull out the nearest pen and paper, write one, sign it, and keep it in your wallet or purse. You have now created a will as a Testator!

Is this the best way to instruct your last wishes?  

Likely not, but it is a recognized method in Alberta.

In most instances, you would consult a lawyer and review the intricacies of your final wishes, and put them into more formal documentation, rather than a napkin in your back pocket.

It is also recommended to consult your tax advisor during the preparation of your will to ensure the most tax-efficient treatment of any assets being distributed.

What are the different types of wills?

In most cases, the will that comes to mind for most is the formal will, however, there are a few others that are accepted in Alberta.

  1. Formal will

    • Signed by the testator
    • Signed by two witnesses (all in the presence of each other)
    • Typically typed, or in writing
  2. Holograph will

    • Must be in the Testator’s own writing
    • Must be signed by the Testator
    • No witness
  3. Military will

    • Written while on active service in the Canadian Military
    • Must be signed by the Testator
    • No witness

Execution of the will

Once a will is written, it comes into effect upon your death.  

The personal representative of your estate carries out the instructions in the will, settling your assets and liabilities upon death.

How do you choose a personal representative?

Firstly, they should be a trustworthy adult who is able to carry out your instructions. But most importantly they are willing to carry out the task. It’s a good idea to let them know (or ask for permission) prior to naming them in your will.

To keep things simple, it is best to have an individual who resides in Alberta.

Do you need a will?

Dying without a will is called “dying intestate”. This causes problems as there is no one to handle your assets and liabilities upon death, plus there is no indication of what to do with your assets.

In these cases a relative or friend can apply to the court for a grant of administration for your estate, giving them authority to handle your assets and liabilities.

After this occurs, there are laws in Alberta that indicate who can inherit your estate. Typically, it is assumed to be family, as is the norm in most wills.

In summary, wills are complicated documents that can be prepared by simplistic means. Even if you don’t have family, or perhaps beneficiaries to leave your assets to, it is still important to have a will in place.

Do you walk around with a napkin in your back pocket? If you don’t have a will, you probably should. 

Contact our team of experts to begin the process of building your will today.

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