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Creating your will: a guide for couples

November 4, 2020 Juliette Baxter
Creating your will: a guide for couples

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

From deciding whether your prickly sister-in-law should be the executor, to how much money you should leave to your spendthrift nephew, estate planning is fraught with emotional hiccups—especially when you’re strategizing for two.

As many couples know, big feelings often get in the way when it comes to tackling the topics of money and your eventual death. Here’s how to get past those emotions and come up with a joint plan for your wills that protects your loved ones and your assets.

First, let’s talk about why you need a will

Before you get started, it’s good to review some basic reasons for getting a will. Number one is to establish orderly succession. “You want the assets to go to the people you want it to go to, and minimize family disputes,” says Cynthia Kett, a Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Financial Planner at Stewart & Kett.

Second is tax minimization. With proper estate planning, Kett explains you can ensure your assets aren’t eaten up by the CRA before it’s dispersed to loved ones.

And, finally, the Toronto-based pro says a will secures proper estate liquidity; that’s a plan for how your cash is doled out to cover after-death taxes, debt payments and the financial needs of your beneficiaries. If there isn’t enough liquidity, some other assets, such as the family home you want to pass along to children, may have to be sold to cover those cash obligations. 

Let’s also talk about why wills make people uncomfortable

Accepting your death isn’t easy and Janet Gray, a Certified Financial Planner for Money Coaches Canada, says that’s why couples get agitated and delay will and estate planning. 

Another reason for hesitancy: “I think people see it as an all-or-nothing decision—either I don’t have a will or I have one.… Most people don’t realize they have the flexibility to make adjustments” at any time after a will has been created, she explains. 

The better strategy is to embrace that your life is finite, draw up a will for now and then update it whenever you come to more confident decisions together. An online service like Willful makes this step quick, easy and affordable. You can each crate a legal will for as little as $99, from the comfort of your living room sofa. And when you need to make updates, that’s simple too: Willful is the only national will provider that offers unlimited updates to documents.

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