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I'm single and no kid. That's the way it should stay. :) I live in a city, far from any family member.

In case something should happen to me, I insist on easing my family's task when it comes to what to do with my finances. Information is the key. I can write a will, leave it an enveloppe, and when they come and pick up my stuff, they may not even see it... Should I write several wills and mail them to some family members?

This is my plan. Please feel free to give me suggestions.

I will put all my credit card, RRSP and bank statements in an enveloppe along with my will. I will also include a detailed list of all my debts and assets so they won't miss anything.

These are the items I will list:

1. Bank account numbers
2. Credit card numbers (They will be needed to be paid off and closed)
3. Bank account number.

Q: Will they be able to retrieve whatever money there is in it? Is there a procedure they have to follow? If so, I'll write it down for them.

4. RRSP plan number
5. Life insurance policy number I have with my employer.
6. The name and phone number of my employer so they can receive whatever money.
7. I don't have much as material other than a computer, a few pieces of furniture, a bike and a guitar. :) I should not bother with that, I guess.
 

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If you intend to leave a home-made will, make sure it is entirely handwritten (not typed). Holographic wills require the ENTIRE document to be handwritten.

I caution you that they are generally only used when someone is dying quickly (one of the cases we learn about in law school involves a farmer who's tractor rolled onto him. He scrawled "All to wife" on the side of the tractor in blood. It stood up in court.)

If you want to ensure your family properly deals with your estate upon your death, you should speak to a lawyer about having a proper will done up.
 

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The thing about wills (holographic or not) is that they provide certainty, which banks like. Having dealt with estate tax returns, banks very much prefer notarized standard wills which spell out how accounts are to be treated.

You should also ensure that whatever is written in the will you prepare is consistent with the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and RRSP.

Also, if you have "estate" written in as beneficiary, this will be more complicated for your family than if you designate beneficiaries by name.
 

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I would not recommend a holographic will. There are will "kits" available, but precisely because you are so distant from family I would have a lawyer prepare one for you.

In order to settle your affairs, you need to appoint an executor in your will. The financial institutions will not deal with just anyone - it has to be a duly designated executor or a court-appointed trustee. It is hardly fair to do this without asking the appointee if they wiil do it. If no friend or famly member is willing/able to do it you can pay a Trust company or lawyer to do it. Your executor needs to know where to find the financial information your are assembling, and should probably have a copy of your will (and access to the original). It is not necessary to circulate copies of your will to your family, but you should tell them you have a will, who the executor is, and what your wishes are regarding a funeral.

If a will is not witnessed, application will definitely have to be made to probate court to confirm the executor's authority. Even if the will is witnessed, the estate may have to go through probate, depending on the assets you have. The banks also have their internal rules that may require a probated will if your account are over certain limits.

You may be able to simplify your estate by designating beneficiaries for your insurance and RRSP. However you need to leave enough money in your estate for the executor to cover your funeral costs, taxes, and any costs related to handling your estate.

PS: There can be a lot of paperwork to settling an estate - read a will & estates guide and you will get a hint of how many agencies have to be contacted, and income tax returns filed. This can be difficult to do for someone who lives far away. Unless you have a friend in the same locale who is willing, I would suggest you talk to a trust company or lawyer about handling it. If you appoint a family member as executor they are probably going to end up having to hire a lawyer or trust company anyway, and pay for it out of the estate (which the executor is permitted to do)

PPS: If you do not do the above, the courts will appoint a provincial trustee to deal with your estate, but this will take a lot of time, they may have no idea what your wishes were, and the trustee will charge for the service.
 

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Also, note that there isn't much of a reason to put all of your paperwork along with your will. Just put the original in a safe-deposit box, with copies given to your executor and kept in a file cabinet.

If you die, at some point somebody will need to go through your stuff, and the first place they'll look for account statements etc is going to be a filing cabinet.
 

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IMO it is worthwhile to spend the few hundred dollars for a will and not incur the risks of using a form--many people have screwed up the drafting, which is harder to do then you'd think.
 

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How can you make a mistake with a home made will?

My elderly mother in law has no assets except for a small bank account she has with my husband, her only son. She lives in an extended home and we pay all her expenses. Her house has long been sold and except for a few personal possessions her estate will be minimal. She and my husband are using a simple will kit from Chapters witnessed by staff at the nursing home. Is this adequate in your opinion? They seem to think so and can't see paying a lawyer for something that seems so straigforward. I have my reservations but mostly agree with them.
 

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Again it's easy enough to screw up drafting, even from a kit. I would never advise someone to use a kit. That being said the main risk of a drafting screw up is intestacy, and if the disposition of the estate is identical to intestacy (no other kids, no spouse) it's hard to argue with that logic.
 

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What happens if you die with out a will

Hello all

I recently wrote about this in a newsletter... I posted it on my blog and here is the link: Dying without a will.

In summary:
Remember your debt (or your parents) does not go away when you/they pass on? I recently encountered a case where a final parent passed away with debt. The parent’s principle residence has been sitting on the market for sometime unable to sell… meanwhile the children have had to re-mortgage their own homes to satisfy paying off a maxed out line of credit held by the deceased parent.… Not what the children expected to say the least while dealing with the loss of their parent all at the same time.

It is fact that the three most NOT talking about topics within a family are: Money, Death, and Sex/Relationships. As much as I like to think I have relationships figured out I will leave that for you and your family to sort out but the first two I am very confident I have the tools and resources to help you. Help you in a way that is not intrusive and extremely productive.

If you would like to see if your situation (or your parents situation) can be enhanced please give us a call, if nothing else, your family will know everything is, in fact taken care of.

Take care
 

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Remember your debt (or your parents) does not go away when you/they pass on? I recently encountered a case where a final parent passed away with debt, pretty normal right. Well the parent’s principle residence has been sitting on the market for sometime unable to sell… meanwhile the children have had to re-mortgage their own homes to satisfy paying off a maxed out line of credit held by the deceased parent.…
This makes absolutely no sense to me. The children were not forced to re-mortgage their own homes to satisfy the debt of their parents. Debts do not get inherited - the assets owned by the deceased have to be sold off to pay off that person's debts, and anything remaining once debts and taxes have been paid can be distributed to the heirs per the terms of the will (or the appropriate intestate succession law). If the parent's principal residence is up for sale but hasn't sold yet, the estate's executor should simply tell the creditors that they'll have to wait to get paid. What are the creditors going to do? Ruin the dead person's credit rating for non-payment?

It sounds to me like the children didn't get good legal advice.

If your parent dies with debts, it's up to the estate to pay for the debts, not the surviving family members. Debt collectors will try to convince you otherwise, but if you didn't sign up for the debt, you're not responsible for it.
 

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Presumably the children expect to be recipients of the net proceeds of the estate. If they didn't pay the credit card bill, the debt would be piling up at 18-21% interest against the estate, thus reducing their inheritance. So paying off the bills from their own resources was not necessarily a bad economic decision. I think it would be difficult for an executor to get a low-interest bill consolidation loan to pay it off pending disposition of the house.
 

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The thing is the estate assets don't sit there forever, waiting to sell; the executor is obligated to sell off assets to pay debts within a certain time period and obligated to sell off assets to satisfy the claims of beneficiaries (which of course is to the estate's assets after debts are paid). I suppose there are rare situations where the interest on a debt is so high and the assets so illiquid that it is worthwhile to assume debts to gain access to the assets, but I have to imagine this is a very rare situation. And of course the debt itself only needs to be paid by the deceased, not their descendants. One thing to consider (which the article alludes to, but not so clearly) is that there are situations where one may inherit real property and thus inherit in the mortgage. That's why one needs a will to properly address these kinds of issues.
 

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Thank you George for the comment. In this case there were other personal factors that lead to the final decision, for privacy I must keep those confidential. You are correct though, deceased assets would be sold off and debts paid. I was only trying to stress the benefits of obtaining a 'will' sooner than later. I do not draft wills and I do not get paid to write about wills but I felt I should share the importance due to the fact so many people do not have them done or up to date.

Take care
 
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