Writing your Will with a Notary in Burnaby
Selecting your Trustees
The decision to make a Will tells a story about the people whom you trust and love. At your initial meeting, your Notary will ask about the persons you trust to act as your Trustees (or Personal Representatives) to administer your estate. Your legal advisor will ask you to appoint at least two Trustees. This number ensures that if one Trustee is not available, the other can take on the role. Typically, people select their spouse or adult children to act as a Trustee. You may also choose a friend or another relative to be your Trustee. The person you choose should, ideally, live inside British Columbia; if they live outside British Columbia, then your estate may be subject to the tax laws of the place where your Trustee resides.
Who will be the beneficiaries of your Will?
Your legal representative will ask you to discuss the persons you want to be the beneficiaries of your estate. Due to life-events that include dating, marriage, separation, divorce or reconciliation, you may feel differently about who should benefit from your estate. Depending on how you decide to distribute your estate, your spouse, children, family, or friends may have mixed feelings about the Will. The law in British Columbia provides that if you make a Will that does not provide for the proper maintenance and support of your spouse or children, they may, after your passing, ask the court for a decision that is adequate, just and equitable on their behalf. Your Notary is open to hearing your concerns in confidence. Your legal representative will ask for the following information on each beneficiary: full name, date of birth, relationship to you, mailing address, and the share of your estate that you intend to provide.
Choosing a Guardian in your Will
The age of majority in British Columbia is nineteen. If you do not appoint a guardian to hold your share of an estate, the court may appoint the Public Guardian and Trustee on your behalf. When selecting a Guardian for your children, you may want to consider a person’s lifestyle, parenting style, financial situation, geographic location and, importantly, relationship with the child. Depending on your circumstances, this can be either a simple or difficult decision to make. If you have been divorced or separated, please provide a copy of any relevant legal documents to the Notary. Choosing a Guardian can help to avoid a lot of conflicts later on because your family will have a written record of your wishes.
Deciding your funeral arrangements
Your Will allows you to set out your funeral arrangements. Your Trustee and family will want to know if you prefer to be buried or cremated. You may also have a specific cemetery in mind. Providing this information can help your family to find closure. The people who attend will feel that they helped you to fulfil your final wishes.
Signing your Will
On the date of signing, you must sign your Will in the presence of two witnesses. They must also sign in front of you. This practice informs your family, friends and the court that your Will reflects your last wishes and testament.
What will my Will and Estate Plan look like?Generally your Will will have the following characteristics:
- Confirms your identity
- Revokes your prior Wills
- Appoints your Trustees
- Appoints a guardian for minor children
- Directs your Trustee authority to manage your estate, pay debts and taxes from your estate, and leave the remainder to your beneficiaries
- Establish terms for persons under 19
- Pays your estate’s taxes
- Sets out your funeral arrangements; and
- Affirms that you signed before two witnesses, and they before you.
Can you describe the work involved with making a Will?
- Setting an initial appointment
- Conducting an interview (by phone, telephone or online)
- Identifying your Trustees, beneficiaries and other essential persons
- Following up to receive any additional information from you
- Preparing a Wills Notice
- Drafting the Will (or preparing the legal wording)
- Sending you a copy of the draft
- Answering any questions you may have about your Will
- Meeting to sign your Will with two witnesses
- Giving you the Will
- Following up with a letter.