ESTATE PLANNING: Testamentary Wills

Blue WIll Photo

Checklist for Will preparation

What you will need for the preparation of your Will:

  Legal name (and aliases) and addresses of yourself, your Executor, Alternate Executor, and beneficiaries.

  A brief description of your assets.

  Items or specific sums of money you wish to leave to individuals or charities.

  How you want the balance of your estate to be distributed (often called the 'residue').

  In case a beneficiary should predecease you, the name of the person who will receive that portion.

  If you have a minor child, the name of the person who will be appointed as guardian of the child.

  If a minor child is a potential beneficiary, the name of the trustee for the child.

  Information on burial, cremation, or other pre-arranged plans.

Choosing the Executor:

The Executor is responsible for administering your estate, arranging your funeral, proving the Will, liquidating the estate, paying debts, settling your income tax, accounting to the beneficiaries, and distributing the assets as set out in the Will.

Choosing the right Executor is a weighty decision. Your Executor must keep accurate records and act in a timely manner. The Executor should be available for an extended period of time because the average estate takes 6 to 12 months to finalize. Be sure to discuss this responsibility with your potential Executor; it is a serious commitment.

An Executor is entitled to be paid up to 5 percent of the gross value of the estate, depending on its complexity, or you can stipulate the fee in advance.

An independent Executor often resolves conflict between siblings or disappointed relatives. Some people choose a Notary, accountant, or trust company as Executor, if they do not have family close by or if they suspect that a conflict of personalities may arise.