(NC)—Making a will is a sensible and worthwhile task that everybody, whatever their age or financial status, should do. However, there are some special reasons why Canadian women should be sure to make a will of their own.
1. Women usually live longer than their husbands. It's a good idea for each of you to have your own will when you're both alive. After the death of one spouse, changing circumstances may mean you want to write a new will, but having a will in the first place is an important step.
2. Planning for children or other dependents is something that women usually want to pay special attention to.
3. Taxes and legal concerns (especially if there was a previous marriage or other dependents) should be looked at.
4. Many women will want to make special arrangements for the distribution of family heirlooms, jewellery, items of historical or sentimental value, and their own property.
5. Continuing the support for groups and organizations that many women contribute to – both financially and with volunteer time -- during their lifetimes may be a consideration in preparation of a will.
A will lets you decide
With a properly prepared will you can ensure that:
• property will be distributed exactly as you would have wished and not on an arbitrary basis;
• you can name your own executor to administer your estate;
• guardians of children will be named the way you want;
• personal items such as jewellery and antiques will be handled the way you intend;
• individuals, organizations and good causes such as your church, health charities and human rights organizations like Amnesty Interna
tional, will receive the support you had always intended for them.
Prepare a will now
If you do not have a will, now is the time to prepare one. While a will does not need to be a complicated document, it is always advisable to contact a lawyer or trust company to help you. The peace of mind that comes from ensuring there are no small mistakes or omissions which will cause difficulties in future years is well worth the cost of such services.
What to do
1. Renounce any previous wills to avoid possible confusion later.
2. Name an executor-the person who will carry out your instructions as you would wish.
3. Make preparations to take care of your dependents-provide for your immediate family first.
4. If you have children under 18 years of age, consider naming a guardian.
5. Consider whether you want to include specific gifts to friends, relatives or charities.
6. Decide who to give whatever remains of your estate after all other family and friends are taken care of.
7. Leave instructions for your funeral arrangements.
Can I change my will?
Yes, you can always change your will, either completely, or by means of a codicil, which is a document that adds to or alters your existing will. You should seek legal advice to do this as legal requirements vary from province to province.
Should I leave money to a good cause?
The tradition of leaving money to organizations that benefit society and your community is many centuries old. Today, people at all income levels support health charities like the Cancer Society and human rights organizations like Amnesty International through their wills. Such bequests are a vital source of funds for a number of organizations and stand as a lasting memorial to the person making their final contribution.
For individuals who feel they cannot afford to make a large donation to a cause they support during their lifetime, a bequest in a will can be a good way to make a lasting contribution.
A free information package on wills is available from Amnesty International, 1992 Yonge Street, Suite #303, Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7.