What Is a Will?

A Will is a document which provides for the administration and distribution of your property after you pass away. It is not a legal document while you are alive. As such, it may be changed by you (and only you) while you are alive.

As time passes and your personal circumstances change, updating your Will may be necessary to ensure that your current wishes are properly stated. A Will may be challenged after the Testator (the individual who’s Will it is) dies.

Having a clear and carefully thought out Will can reduce the likelihood of a successful challenge.

What Does a Will Include?

A Will does three basic things:

1) It names a person or persons to take control of and administer the assets you own at the date of your death. This person is generally referred to as an Executor/Executrix. Those assets, which the Executor is required to control and administer, are generally referred to as your “Estate”.

2) Your Will provides for the distribution of your Estate (your assets), and allows you to decide who will inherit from you and what they will inherit.

3) Your Will also authorizes your Executor to make decisions and take actions which will enable him/her/them to follow your instructions.

You Don’t Have a Will?

Without a Will, the distribution of your Estate will be completed pursuant to the default rules outlined in the Succession Law Reform Act of Ontario. Thus, if you have specific wishes with respect to the distribution of your Estate, it is imperative that you create and maintain an up to date Will.

The creation of an effective Will requires an understanding of your rights and obligations to creditors and family members. Your Will must be properly signed and witnessed in order to be a valid document.