Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Basics of Estate Planning: Wills (Part 1 of 4)

Posted 5/13/2016

I cannot stress enough the importance of having the necessary estate planning documents in place and ensuring that they are up-to-date. Many people have every intention of having the documents put together, but they just don’t take the time to get them done. Other people may not understand the documents or what is needed to have them done. In the next few blog posts, I want to provide some basic information on estate planning documents and their importance.

When I refer to “estate planning documents”, I am specifically referring to a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, and Personal Directive. In this blog post, which is Part 1 of 4, I will focus my discussion on the Will. Part 2 will focus on Enduring Powers of Attorney, Part 3 will focus on Personal Directives, and Part 4 will focus on the process involved and what you can expect when you hire Kinetic Legal Services to prepare the documents.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document in which you declare to whom your possessions are to go after your death. An Estate includes all real estate and all personal property that you own. However, some assets will not form part of an Estate. For example, those assets with a designated beneficiary (i.e. RRSPs, life insurance, pension) other than your estate, as well as assets that are truly jointly owned (where the right of survivorship applies).

Should you prepare a Will?

A Will ensures that your assets will be distributed to those relatives, friends, and charities whom you wish to benefit. In the absence of a Will, your assets will be distributed according to a scheme outlined in legislation. This results in your surviving relatives inheriting your assets as set out by the Government, and such a distribution may not be what you would have wished.

Without a Will, lengthy and expensive Court proceedings may be necessary before an Estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Also, it can be very upsetting to your family if your intentions were not stated. This could create unnecessary conflict among your family and beneficiaries.

Who can make a Will?

If you are 18 years of age or older and have the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of the Will, you can make a Will.

Who should prepare your Will?

A Will is an important and carefully worded legal document. It is wise for everyone to have their Will drafted by a lawyer to ensure that their wishes are carried out and to prevent any misunderstanding or conflict among beneficiaries. The cost is minimal compared with the possible costs of rectifying problems caused by improperly drafted and executed Wills.


Regardless of your particular situation or the number of assets you own, I recommend having a Will and keeping it up-to-date. I think having a Will is most important for those families with minor children. As a parent, our main goal is to provide for our children. Having a Will ensures that your children will be provided for in 2 distinct ways: 1) financially, since your children would inherit your assets, 2) physically/emotionally, since you can appoint someone you trust to take over as caregiver upon your death.

Many of you may be asking whether I practice what I preach. The answer is YES: I have a Will. It puts my mind at ease knowing that my young son will be properly cared for in the event that something were to happen to my husband and I. If you don’t have a Will, I urge you to seriously consider getting one. I would be happy to help anyone who would like a Will and to answer any questions.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, which will be all about Enduring Powers of Attorney.

Crystal Schening