by Sean Cooper.
So, you finally got around to creating a will. Bravo! Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You’re ahead of most Canadians. Over half of Canadians don’t have a will. When you pass away without a will, it can create all sort of complications and headaches for loved ones at an already stressful time.
While creating a will is a great first step, it’s not the only step. There are still things to be done to plan for when you eventually pass away. Here are 5 things you should do after creating a will.
1. Update it after life changes
A will isn’t a legal document that should be treated as out of sight, out of mind. It’s important to remember that it’s a living, breathing document. Life is constantly changing. The birth of a child, the purchase of a new home, marriage and divorce are all major life changes. You’ll want to ensure your will is up to date after any major life change and reflects your current wishes.
An outdated will can almost be as bad as not having any will at all. Let’s say you’re separated from your spouse and are living common-law with someone else and you suddenly pass away. If your will is out of date, depending on the family law rules in the province you live, everything could end up going to your former spouse, even though you want it to go to your common-law partner. Don’t let this happen to you.
Many people hesitate to update their will due to the time and cost of going to a lawyer. At Willful, we strongly believe that keeping an updated will is paramount. For that reason, all our plans include unlimited changes to your will at no extra cost.
2. Let your executor know you’ve picked them
Being named the executor of an estate is a great honour, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. Choosing an executor can be tough. If you have two or more adult children, the last thing you want to do is pick one over the other, causing hurt feelings when you pass away at an already tough time.
Once you’ve made the difficult decision of choosing who your executor is and you’ve went ahead and created a will, let them know that you have picked them to act in this role to avoid any surprises. Also, instruct them on where and how they can obtain your will should something happen. This ties into our next point…
3. Tell family where it is
A will is only helpful if your estate can locate it. While it’s great that you’ve drafted a will, imagine going through the effort with good intentions, only for your estate to not able to find it after your passing.
For that reason, it’s important to let a trusted family member know how and where to access your will should something happen to you. And this once again ties into our next point…
4. Put it in a safe place
An original copy of your will should be stored away in a place that’s not only safe, but that’s also accessible (this last point can’t be emphasized enough). If you’re planning to keep your will at home, be sure to store it in a fireproof box. You wouldn’t want your will to go up in flames should something happen to your property.
Another popular location to store your will is in a safety deposit box. This is a good option, as long as your family is able to access your safety deposit box after you pass away. (Some banks want to see an original copy of a will to access a client’s safety deposit box, but it’s hard to do that if the original copy is stored in the safety deposit box.) If you’re considering doing this, check with your bank ahead of time to find out what will be required for your family to access it.
5. And finally breath!
You just created a really important document and life plan, so good on you for doing so. Not enough people have made a plan and now you can feel more secure that you did. Don’t forget to live life and enjoy everything knowing you and your family are protected.