Your Last Will & Testament is a key part of your estate plan. It is important to understand what a Last Will & Testament does, and does not do to avoid problems. Let Law On Demand help you understand the purpose of a will.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament (Will) is a document signed by you before your death. It appoints someone to manage your affairs after you die, and designates who will benefit from your estate. A Will ensures that your wishes are followed, and that the wealth you accumulate during your lifetime passes to the people you want to inherit.
Why is a Will necessary?
A Will simplifies the process for your family. Without a formal will, your family may face delays in accessing funds, higher taxes and court costs. A will eliminates uncertainty for your family. It can also maximize the value of your estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.
If you die without a Will, the Wills and Succession Act of Alberta sets out a formula to determine who manages your estate, and who will benefit from your estate. The designated formula may not coincide with your wishes.
What is the role of a personal representative and who can I name as a personal representative?
Your personal representative (aka executor) is the person designated in your will to manage all of your affairs after your death. You can name any person over the age of 18 as your personal representative. You also have the option to name multiple people to be your personal representative.
Most people generally name their spouse as their personal representative, and then name children or other family or friends as an alternate personal representative in the event the spouse dies at the same time.
What is included in my Estate?
Your estate includes any real or personal property that is not held jointly or does not have a named beneficiary.
For example, land held in joint tenancy (i.e. by a Husband and Wife) is not included in an estate, but land held in only your name is part of the estate.
Life insurance with a named beneficiary that is not your estate does not form part of your estate. RRSP’s, RRIF’s, LIRA’s and TFSA’s with designated beneficiaries also do not form part of your estate.
Everything else is part of your estate and is eligible to be gifted through your will.
Who can my beneficiaries be?
Subject to the legal requirement to provide for your spouse and any dependent children or grandchildren, you can name any person, group of persons, charity or corporation as a beneficiary.
If you have additional questions, please book an Estate Planning consultation with Law On Demand.
This video has additional information that may be of assistance to you.