Your will: A way to simplify the life of your loved ones
Good retirement planning would be incomplete without a valid will. If you've worked hard to save up a nest egg, it would be unfortunate to see it allocated against your wishes upon your death. In fact, in Quebec, it's the law that decides who the assets of a decedent are distributed to, in the absence of a will. However, our family preferences may be very different from what the law establishes.
Samyr Mehaïlia: Financial planner
To make sure you have drafted a will that reflects your wishes and will be beneficial to your loved ones, you should start by making a list of your assets and liabilities. This list will include your investments, registered retirement plans you have participated in, life insurance policies, residences you own, loans, mortgages you have taken out, and your tax liabilities. The next step is identifying your heirs. You may even consider establishing a trust in your will to safeguard the future of your loved ones, or even to make a donation to a charitable organization.
To be valid, the will can be a holograph will, a will made in the presence of witnesses or a notarial will. Notarial is the most commonly recommended form. Drafted by a legal expert, notarial wills are listed in the Register of Wills kept by the Chambre des notaires du Québec. Moreover, it does not need to be verified by the court or a notary to take effect once the testator dies. It remains confidential both before and after death, and is difficult to contest. Whatever type of will is chosen, it's always the most recent one that is valid.
A will also includes the appointment of one or more estate liquidators. Formerly called a "testamentary executor", this individual is responsible for transferring the assets of the decedent in accordance with his or her wishes, and settling any debts the decedent may have left behind. It is a very good idea to discuss this role with the person you want to entrust it to, because it represents a lot of responsibility. The estate liquidator will have to cover several areas of expertise: law, accounting, rendering of accounts, taxation, portfolio management and administration of both immovable property and movable property (e.g., leased cars), as the case may be. He will likely have to surround himself with experts in these fields or empower a trust company to help him with these tasks.
Other details may be included in the will, such as funeral arrangements. Although writing this instrument requires careful thought, it can prevent many problems by making your wishes clear as to the transfer of your assets to the heirs you have designated. A written will helps you avoid your assets being attributed and transferred to people you would not otherwise have chosen to favour. Ultimately, the best approach is to consult a notary to make sure you have the best possible will for you.