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  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

Do You Have A Will?

𝓓𝓸 𝓨𝓸𝓾 𝓗𝓪𝓿𝓮 𝓐 𝓦𝓲𝓵𝓵?

As the saying goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Well, be warned: Without a will, you could end up losing your way, with governments meddling in your affairs.

November is Make A Will Month, so let’s talk about this important subject.

I often tease my kids saying if I only knew my “best before date”. Or, even more important, I’ll quip I want to know my “expiry date.” Bottom line is none of us know when the grim reaper will come calling – and all too often we are guilty of putting off estate planning, including making sure we have a legal and binding will, to ease the burden on family members when we do expire.

David Newman, founder and principal director of Fiscal Agents Savings and Investments in Oakville, says estate planning is a key part of smart financial planning, and completing a will, plus selecting executors and powers of attorney for finance and health, will offer families peace of mind.

“Implementing a comprehensive, well-designed estate plan can represent true peace of mind especially for maturing people who want to enjoy their remaining years in the company of old friends and family,” says Newman. Fiscal Agents, Canada’s renowned independent deposit brokerage, offers free downloads of their financial planning guides to help in the task. Visit, On this landing page you will myself and Newman offering advice on a wide range of financial topics. Or for just estate planning, visit

So, let’s do a quick estate planning refresher.

What is a will? Simply put, it is a person’s will in a written document that sets out the person’s wishes about how his or her estate should be taken care of and distributed after death. It takes effect when the person dies.

What is a living will? This is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill, and cannot communicate your wishes about treatment.

Many people ask, can I write my own will? Yes, there are many online guides, where you can put your wishes on paper, but my advice is always get legal advice. A trusted estate planning lawyer can become your best friend.

What is an estate? An estate is the property that a person owns or a legal interest in. The term is often used to describe assets and liabilities left by a person after death.

What is a trust? A trust is created to hold property or assets for the benefit of a particular person called the beneficiary, and is often used for minors. It is managed by a person called a trustee, who has an obligation to carry out the deceased’s wishes.

What is the executor? This is the person you appoint to carry out your wishes after death, and is responsible for distributing your estate to the beneficiaries. Fiscal Agent’s Newman warns this can be a daunting task, and will take time and knowledge. For example, if assets are distributed to beneficiaries without outstanding taxes being paid first, the executor will be on the hook.

What about powers of attorney for finance and health? You should pick people you trust to carry out these duties. If you become incapacitated, their responsibility is to make decisions on your behalf for your finances and health. Newman advises, if possible, do not pick the same person for both finance and health

There is so much more to learn, so get started now. Newman sums it up: “For most people, estate planning is a difficult subject to discuss and to plan for, because it forces us to come to terms with our own mortality. Yet it is something you need to discuss openly with your loved ones today, because you can’t do so after you’re gone.”

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