So, you have decided to draw up your will or update an existing one. First, I would suggest you do some research. The internet has a wealth of information on all aspects and situations dealing with wills and powers of attorney. Read as much as possible, to educate yourself about these legal matters. The more knowledge you have, the more questions you will be able to ask your lawyer. Talk to friends and benefit from their experiences. Deciding the terms for these legal documents will take a considerable amount of time and thought on your part. Don’t rush through this process.


Make a list or at least be aware of all your assets. Decide on how they will be divided up and who the beneficiaries will be. Do you want to leave bequests (specific items of personal property) and to whom? If minor children are beneficiaries, what age will they inherit? Will a trust be set up for them?


Who will you choose, and will you have more than one person sharing this responsibility? If the estate is complex, having two or more executors may be a good idea as the work load would be shared plus co-executors can act as a double check on all estate decisions.

Choose people who have some financial smarts. After all, they will be making some pretty important money decisions within a very short period of time so don’t name Uncle Bob, the gambler for this position. Family members, friends, accountants, Trust Companies, etc. could all be candidates for the role of Executor if you feel comfortable with their ability to carry out your wishes.

Consider geographical distances when selecting your executors. Will it be difficult for them to travel to meetings, etc. to finalize your affairs? With modern technology, this may not be as big an issue as it was in the past.

And finally, ask the person’s permission before you appoint them for this very responsible and demanding job. They may not want to do it.

Guardianship of minor and dependent children:

Your children are your most precious asset. Who do you want to raise them if both you and your spouse have died? Don’t just assume that family will look after them. You and your partner should choose someone from your generation to raise your children who has the same outlook on life, the same values, the same goals and who love your children. You might consider naming only one person, and not a couple, to act as guardian. In today’s society, with divorce being so common, you do not want to subject your children to a custody court case between the guardians. Finally, discuss your ideas and expectations with the person you have selected and get her/his consent to do this act of love.

Powers of Attorney:

Choose someone you trust, as you are literally putting your life in their hands. The considerations and issues are the same as are those outlined for your will. You may want different people to look after the Personal Care and the Property one. I think this is a good idea, but it is strictly a personal choice depending on your family dynamics, so consider all options.

For the Power of Attorney for Property, again, appoint someone with financial knowledge, whether a family member, a friend or a professional, who understands your views and wishes on how you want your financial affairs handled. Discuss this with him/her and make sure he/she is willing to take on this responsibility. This person has the legal obligation to pay your bills, collect money owed to you, maintain or sell your house and other property and manage your investments.

For the Power of Attorney for Personal Care, maybe you want to appoint someone from your own generation who would have a better understanding of your outlook regarding health issues and personal care. Maybe your children would be a good choice. Many things to consider. Again, get their permission for taking on this duty.

Research done, decisions made, what next?

There are two options:

You can draw up the will yourself using a will kit, or you can go to a lawyer. For something as important as this, I strongly recommend going to a lawyer. They are the experts in this area. They will ask questions you didn’t even consider and when all is completed, you will have peace of mind knowing that everything has been professionally and legally done.

You will meet at least two times with your lawyer, either in person or by zoom, etc. For the first meeting, you will discuss what you have decided prior to this meeting, ask questions for clarification and listen to his suggestions. When you leave, he will have a complete understanding of your wishes and instructions. Before the next meeting, ask your lawyer to mail, email or courier the drafts of these documents. You need time to proofread these papers. Check to see if there are any mistakes, adjustments or changes you want made. This is extremely important. I have caught mistakes in documents from lawyers in the past, so it does happen.

Your second meeting with the lawyer will be to make sure any changes you requested to the draft were indeed made, and then to sign the will. Two people must witness you actually signing. This is usually the lawyer plus one of his employees.

Where to store the original copy of your will?

Leave the original signed papers with the lawyer. Don’t put the original signed will in a safety deposit box. I have a horror story about that happening.

Your lawyer will give you an unsigned copy for your records, but because it isn’t signed, it is not legal. Give the executors of your will and the people you appointed for powers of attorney, your lawyer’s business card. Do not give them copies of these actual legal papers. When the time comes for these documents to come into effect, everyone involved will contact the law firm and have quick and easy access to them.

When do I need to update my will?

You should review your will every five years to see if it accurately reflects your current situation. This is very important. Some of the major events or situations that would require you to update or make changes to your will are listed below.

– Getting married

– Separating or divorcing your spouse

– Starting a common-law relationship

– Becoming a parent

– Having significant changes in your financial situation

– The death or disability of a beneficiary, Executor, or an appointee for powers of attorney,

– Having children who have reached the age of majority

– Wishing to add or remove beneficiaries

This has been a very basic attempt on my part to get you thinking, regardless of your age, about the importance of having a will. It is the only document that speaks for you after you die. Don’t you think you deserve to have the last word?