POSTED October 13, 2021
What does it take to create an effective Will that will give you peace of mind?
There’s more options to create Wills than ever before. Just like many other industries, Wills have adapted to online formats that serve all age groups who can create them without always needing to meet with a lawyer.
Regardless of age, size of assets or family situation, all individuals and couples stand to gain peace of mind through an up-to-date Will, ensuring their loved ones will be taken care of after their lifetime. The truth is having a Will isn’t just for you, it is about loved ones you leave behind. The last thing you want to do is put additional stress on your loved ones when they’re grieving.
So, let’s take a look at questions you may have when creating your first Will…
What are my options for creating a Will?
Handwriting a Will (Holographic Wills): This is often done in emergency situations, such as when the writer, or testator, is near death or alone.
Hiring a lawyer: This is a traditional option for Wills and estate-planning documents, but since the majority of the testator’s needs are generally simple, the added cost and hassle of multiple in-person meetings may not be worth it depending on the simplicity of your estate.
Online Will-writing service or app: Many times, online apps or software are an effective and budget-savvy way for those with simple estate requirements to create a Will and other estate-planning documents.
When should I create my first Will?
There’s no bad time to draft your first Will, but there are several key events that signal when a Will should be created or updated. Simply put, whenever you accumulate something that could be lost, such as wealth or assets, it’s a good idea to reflect that in your Will. Although it’s not particularly common, drafting your first Will when just beginning your career is a great way to get started.
Here are a few of the most important events that should prompt you to create or update a Will:
Marriage or divorce: This ensures that in the case of your unexpected death or illness your spouse inherits your assets with ease. This is especially important for common-law couples, since laws don’t guarantee your partner will have an easy process to inherit what you’ve left behind (if that’s what you want). And, if you’re recently divorced you may want to update the division of your assets.
Buying property and other assets: Having a Will in this case ensures assets, like property and jewellery, are left to the right people.
Birth or adoption of your first child: All individuals or couples with children should have a plan to ensure all minors will be cared for in the event of an unexpected passing. This is often a “must update” event, as you’ll likely want to include your children as beneficiaries of your estate. Wills are also commonly combined with life insurance at this stage.
Adoption of pets: Just like your children, fur babies can be included in your Will to ensure they’re cared for by the right person if you’re not there.
Illness or death of a loved one: If you see the complications that can happen when a person dies without an updated Will, it may be a good prompt to create your own. It’s also important to have one or two back-up executors, in case your first choice predeceases you.
How and when do I update my Will?
Whenever you draft a new or updated Will, your previous document is revoked and null to ensure you only have one legal Will. If you previously drafted a Will with a lawyer, then updating it depends on scheduling time to see them again.
Online services also make it easy to update your Will whenever you want at no extra cost. This can be as simple as logging into your account and making a few changes every few years. If you previously drafted a Will with a lawyer and you have simple estate requirements for online Wills, you could move online and vice-versa.
Many couples have started doing yearly reviews of their estate plans, including their Will, simply reviewing everything and tracking if updates are needed. This practice may appeal to you.
What other considerations should I make when creating a Will?
An additional consideration for any Will is the legacy you want to leave behind. If you’re ensuring your loved ones are protected, why not consider protecting something else you care about after you die?
There are plenty of great causes to support that will carry on long after you’re gone, and a legacy gift has the potential to advance that cause for future generations to come. One example could be giving a one percent residual gift to a charity that supports a problem like breaking barriers to education so children around the world can change their futures.
If your estate is valued at $500,000 for instance, then that one percent is equal to $5,000, which is more than many people give in their lifetime and can have a momentous impact on a charity. At Children Believe, that gift could send 50 girls to school for a year. That could change the futures of 50 girls, their families and their communities, ultimately helping hundreds of people.
While this is just one example of how a legacy gift can have an impact on the world, it’s an entirely individual choice. While leaving a legacy gift may not be everyone’s choice, many people feel empowered that they can benefit their world even after their lifetime.
Should I tell the charity about a future gift in my Will?
It’s a good idea to let a charity know about your intended future gift, especially if you have designated it to a specific area of funding. They’ll ensure the gift can be used how you’d like and can keep the dialogue open with you if anything changes. Most important, it gives them the chance to say thank you and celebrate you while they still can.
Should I tell my family about my Will?
Yes. Speaking to your family about decisions in your Will is extremely important. You should speak to your executors and guardians and share rationale behind leaving gifts to loved ones or charities.
While having these conversations may be uncomfortable, that small amount of discomfort is far less than your loved ones can experience if you don’t make your wishes known to them before you die.
Matt Renzoni works with Willfora, our online Will-planning partner. Learn more about how you can get your free, online Will done through their online software.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE (formerly Christian Children's Fund of Canada):
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of 12 child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in more than 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.