How to Make a Will

/ By Cowan Financial Solutions

What do Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and Prince have in common? All three celebrities failed to leave written instructions about what should happen to their assets and likenesses once they were gone. The resulting bitter legal battles between family members and loved ones are a stark reminder of why having an up-to-date will is so important.

Over half of all Canadian adults don't have a will—are you one of them?

A 2018 Angus Reid poll reported that 51% of Canadians don't have a will. So, what is it that inhibits Canadians from taking the first step to setting up a will?

One primary reason for not having a will is that Canadians don't want to think about their death. It's only natural—no one wants to think about their demise. But without a will, you give your province of residence free reign to determine how your assets get divided once you've passed on. As a result, significant people in your life may be excluded from receiving any proceeds from your estate. Worse yet, assets may go to unintended beneficiaries or be depleted by probate fees.

Many people also mistakenly think that creating a will is costly. There are two main ways to set up a will: you can do it yourself or hire a lawyer. The do-it-yourself option is less expensive and quicker than hiring a lawyer, and numerous viable alternatives are available online. It's recommended that you do your due diligence to find the right solution for you and the family. Costs can range from 40 to 90 dollars. After creating the document, all that's needed is to print and sign it with witnesses present.

The cost can vary between firms if you choose to solicit a lawyer. If this is your preferred route, planning to save enough money to cover the fees is well worth the effort.

Find the right financial solutions that best suit your needs.

Powers of attorney

You may also consider creating powers of attorney when setting up your will. There are two types you can name—personal care and property. A power of attorney for personal care authorizes someone else to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated. A power of attorney for property allows someone else to decide financial matters— like paying your bills or receiving pension income—if you become mentally or physically incompetent.

Getting started

In preparation for setting up your will, you'll want to log an inventory of your assets, including your real estate, money, investments, and personal and household belongings. Next, prepare a list of beneficiaries to determine how your assets should be divided. Be specific when naming beneficiaries, stating their full name and relationship to you.

You will also want to choose an executor who will oversee the following:

  • Safeguarding your estate
  • Gathering your assets
  • Paying your debts
  • Dividing your estate among your beneficiaries

After you've completed your will, you'll want to make sure to review it every few years, or if you have a life-changing event, such as a new addition to your family, a marriage, the death of a beneficiary, or a significant move. You can amend your existing will or draw up a new one when changes occur.

Setting up a will ensures that your family is looked after and your wishes are fulfilled. A will gives you peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be met and any possible conflicts over your estate will be avoided.

Contact the Cowan Financial Services team by phone at 519-651-6660 or 1-877-899-2194 or by email at to create a will.


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