It’s amazing the number of people I talk to who don’t have a Will. People, you’re gonna die, it’s just a matter of time. And if you die before you planned and you don’t have a will, you might end up spinning in your grave when you look down and see where all your savings are going.
Make sure you get yourself a good lawyer. Please don’t put saving money before getting the right kind of advice. And don’t use a DIY kit. This is especially true if you have an estate worth fighting over, or any complications in your family dynamics.
If you’re broke and can’t come up with any money for a lawyer, you can handwrite a Will if you keep it really simple, but it has to be in your handwriting (don’t think you can type it up and sign it) and it should NOT be witnessed.
To bypass your estate and save on probate fees, make sure the beneficiary forms on all your accounts are up to date. That includes your RRSPs, TFSAs, RRIFs, insurance policies and anything else of value. Remember that beneficiary designations trump whatever is in your Will, so if you change your mind, change your beneficiary designations, not just your Will.
If you’re worried about the amount of tax your estate will have to pay, and how little your progeny will have for their personal indulgence, you can always buy insurance to cover off the tax bill. Personally, I‘m not into spending money to insure my wealth for the benefit of my rug-rats. I’ve let ‘em all know that I’ll help them while I‘m alive, but they shouldn’t count on anything much when I croak.
The most important thing you can do for your heirs is the thing that costs the least: talk. Tell them what’s what. Explain how you’ve set up your finances and where to find everything they’ll need to wrap up your estate. If they’re not up to the task of being the executor, get them some professional help. If it’s straightforward enough that anyone can do it, leave detailed instructions and then tell them where those instructions are. If you’re worried about them knocking you off for your money, you don’t have to tell ‘em what’s in the Will, just where it (and all your other documentation) lives.