Preparing your Will? Start the process with this checklist

1.  List key documents related to your estate such as:

  • Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Land titles and mortgage documents
  • Bank account numbers
  • RRSP, RRIFs, and TFSA account numbers
  • Pension plan numbers
  • Investment portfolio account numbers
  • Insurance policy numbers
  • Funeral plans and related information

2.  Identify, list and locate all of your assets and liabilities such as:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and Term Deposits
  • Business interests (e.g. shares or partnership interests)
  • Valuable personal property (e.g. vehicles or collectibles)
  • Debts owed to you
  • Mortgages
  • Lines of Credit
  • Loans or Financing
  • Credit Cards
  • Subscriptions or memberships

3.  List your advisors such as your accountant, lawyer, and insurance broker.

4.  Identify and list beneficiaries for life insurance policies, RRSPs, TFSAs etc.

5.  Identify and list email and other online accounts, including passwords.

6.  Let your family/executor know where you store the above information.

7.  Choose an executor(s) who is trustworthy and able and willing to act.

8.  Choose an alternate executor(s) in case your first choice cannot act.

9.  Make sure your executor(s) knows where you store your Will.

10.  Questions to consider when preparing your Will:

  • Do you want to leave specific gifts? For example, my mother’s wedding ring to my eldest daughter or $500 to each of my grandchildren.
  • Do you want to prepare a memorandum or list outlining how your personal effects will be divided?
  • Do you want to set up trusts in your Will? For example, you will likely want to have a trust for minor children or dependent adults.
  • If you have trusts in your Will, who do you want to act as Trustee?
  • How much authority do you want your executor(s) to have? For example, do you want your executor to have broad authority to make investment decisions or the discretion to liquidate assets?
  • Who will you name as guardian for minor children? Who will be your alternate guardian for minor children if your first choice is unable to act?
  • Are there any loans or debts owed to you that you want to forgive after your death?
  • Are there special circumstances that need to be accounted for in planning your Will? For example, a common law spouse or children from a previous marriage
  • How do you want the bulk of your estate divided?
  • If one of your children predeceased you, do you want to make special provision for that child’s children in your Will?
  • If one of your beneficiaries predeceases you, to whom do you want that share of your estate to go?
  • Do you need a common disaster clause? For example, you and your immediate family regularly travel in the same car or plane together.  You may want to plan for the possibility that a common disaster may affect all of your beneficiaries.