To prepare for making a will you should make a list of the following:
- Your legal name (any aliases) and address.
- Full name and address of whom you wish to appoint as your executor.
- Full name and address of whom you wish to appoint as an alternate executor (should your first choice be unable to act).
- A brief description of your assets.
- A detailed description of any items or specific sums of money you wish to leave to beneficiaries.
- How you want to distribute the balance of your estate (often referred to as the residue of your estate) after specific items or money have been given, if any.
- Full names and addresses of all beneficiaries.
- If a beneficiary should predecease you, who should receive his or her share?
- If you have children under 19 years of age, the name and address of the person(s) you wish to designate as guardian.
- Information on any burial or cremation arrangements you may have.
We recommend that you review your Wills periodically. In conducting such a review, you should consider the following questions:
- Have your family circumstances changed?
- Have you married or divorced since your Will was signed?
- Has there been a death in your family?
- Are you satisfied with your choice of Trustee and is your named Trustee still able to administer your estate?
- Has there been any change in the value of your assets?
- Have you made any substantial gifts or loans that should be recorded?
- Have there been any recent changes to legislation that may provide you with tax and probate relief?
If any of these circumstances apply, you may need to redo your will.
Choosing an Executor
Your executor is responsible for administering your estate, arranging your funeral, proving the will, liquidating the estate, paying debts, distributing assets as the will directs and many other duties.
Choosing an executor is a very weighty decision. It is important that your executor be able to keep proper records and be available for an extended period of time to administer your estate. You should be sure and discuss this responsibility with your potential executor as it is a very time consuming job.
An executor is entitled to be paid up to 5% of the gross value of the estate depending on the complexity of the estate, but you can stipulate in advance what the fee should be.
An independent executor can often resolve conflicts among siblings or disappointed relatives. Some people choose an independent person such as a notary, accountant or a trust company if they haven’t any family close by or if they suspect there may be a conflict of interest.
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