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Understanding Your Will

What is a Will?

This post will provide you with some important information that is necessary for you to understand your Will. First, the basics: a Will is a legal document that lets you communicate to others how you want your property to be dealt with when you die. It allows you to name a person, or multiple people that you trust to make sure your wishes are carried out. It also allows you to name beneficiaries who will inherit your property upon death.


What is an Executor?

An Executor is the person responsible for dealing with your body when you die and is also responsible for making sure your Estate is distributed according to your wishes. The Executor must ensure that your body is buried or cremated according to your wishes, as well as carrying out any celebration of life or funeral directions you provide. Your Executor should always be a person that you trust and you should always make sure your Executor knows where to locate your Will.


What is a Beneficiary?

Beneficiaries are the people that are entitled to part of your Estate. A beneficiary can be anyone and does not need to be related to you in any way. You can also name an organization, company, or other entity as a beneficiary in your Will. A beneficiary can also be a minor, though a specific provision would have to be included in your Will to make sure that their portion of your Estate is held in Trust for them until they are old enough to receive it.

What property can I gift in my Will?

You can gift most of your property through your Will. Exceptions include any insurance or retirement benefits where there are already named beneficiaries and any property held jointly with another person unless that other person agrees to gift the jointly held property to the same person. Insurance and retirement benefits will be distributed according to the directions outlined in your respective plans. It is important to ensure that your plans are up-to-date and reflect your current wishes. A spouse has a right of survivorship to a matrimonial home according to the Family Law Act, which means that upon your death, your spouse automatically inherits ownership of your matrimonial home. Because of this, you are unable to gift a matrimonial home to anyone other than your spouse in your Will unless you and your spouse agree who will inherit your matrimonial home when you are both deceased.


How can I distribute my property?

You have many options when choosing how to distribute your property. You can keep your property in its real form or you can state in your Will that your real property be sold and converted into cash; you can divide your entire Estate equally among your beneficiaries or you can specify that certain items or properties to go to specific individuals; you can give a beneficiary the right to use part of your Estate for their lifetime and specify who would inherit that asset after that person dies. These options are why it is so important to speak with a lawyer to assist you in drafting your Will. Your lawyer can help you make sure your property will be distributed just how you want and will provide you with advice with respect to how best to deal with the various distributions of your assets.

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