The basic step in estate planning is writing a will. Now, this calls for the need for an individual to face their mortality. Death isn’t something many of us would like to deal with.

But if you want to have a say in the distribution of your estate, you will need to have a will. At Accountable Clerical & Legal Services Inc., we always want to know what you consider essential in planning your estate. That is the first step.

And reasons may vary from one individual to another. For some, their utmost priority is to preserve the wealth of the family. Or it could be the desire to transfer the reins of the family business, among many other reasons.

When you die without a valid will, the Province will determine the distribution of your assets. Thus, your estate won’t automatically go to your children or spouse. Also, you could lose a significant value of the assets to cover probate fees, or capital gains taxes.

Below are ways to ensure that your wishes are carried out:

• Make an Inventory of your Assets

This step will help you identify what you have, regarding assets and liabilities. List down your investments and properties, including your vacation homes. Identify your tax positions. Consider the needs of the family and whether they will be in a place to maintain their current lifestyle if something happens to you.

• Know Your Options

Disputes that may arise concerning your estate, after you are gone, could cost money and may cause a rift in the family. You need to decide on how the distribution will go about. You will choose to leave it to your beneficiaries through trusts; or through outright inheritance. You may also wish to give back to charitable causes.

You also need to find out how the provincial legislation may affect your desires. And that includes tax implications.

• Choosing an Executor

It is a vital step. It is the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes as per the will. It is ideal to choose someone who is younger than you and probably living in the same province. You can appoint two people for each position, or co-executors so they can share the responsibilities that come with it.

• Will Creation

As part of this process, you will need to establish a Power of Attorney. That is someone who will manage your affairs when you aren’t able to. The will should name the executor, and outline your wishes. You should also consider providing your appointees with detailed instructions about their tasks.

Working with a professional in your estate planning process is paramount. Be it a lawyer, tax practitioner or investment advisor. Ensure that they understand your objectives. Remember to review your will regularly, ideally, every two to five years.