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November is Make a Will Month

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For many people, November is a time for reflection and goal-setting for the upcoming year. Perhaps you’ve decided that it’s finally time to write that novel you’ve been putting off, or you’re cleaning out your closet and donating those jackets you haven’t worn in ages to charity. November is a time when the days get shorter, the weather gets colder, and we make ourselves cozy at home with our loved ones. But as you start making preparations for the holidays and look toward the months ahead, November is also an ideal time to take stock of where you are in your life, and to think about your and your loved ones’ future. That’s why we think of November as “make a will” month, and we’re here to explain why you should too.

The importance of having a will

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: No one likes talking, much less thinking, about making a will. We get it. Thinking about dying isn’t exactly the kind of festive activity you had in mind when baking pumpkin pies and planning a Christmas shopping list with your family. But we’d like to suggest a change of perspective: Instead of thinking of wills as something morbid and depressing, think of it as an opportunity to truly ensure your loved ones’ wellbeing, no matter what happens. Not only does this provide an incredible feeling of peace and serenity to you and your family, it also ensures that your wishes will be respected even when you can no longer express them yourself.

Perhaps you’re thinking that there’s still plenty of time to write a will, and that you’re young and wills are something that older people need to think about. Or perhaps you think that you don’t own anything of great value, and don’t have a massive fortune to leave behind, so what’s the point?

The thing about life is that it’s unpredictable, and while we always hope for the best we should also be prepared for the worst. That’s why we always say that the best time to write a will was yesterday, and the second-best time is right now. Because taking care of this task, as unpleasant and dreary as it seems, will leave you feeling confident that you’ve taken control of what happens to your belongings and your loved ones after you’re no longer there.

Here’s what happens when you die without a will: You’re considered to have died intestate, and your belongings are split up according to very specific inheritance laws. You get no say in what happens to your things. If you have a pet, there may not be a caretaker for it and it might end up in a shelter. If you wanted to donate money to charity or leave your book collection to your best friend, you’re out of luck. If you wanted a special poem or song to be performed at your funeral but don’t have a will, there’s no guarantee that wish will be respected. That’s why it doesn’t matter how big or small your estate is: You still want to keep control over what happens after you pass.

A will is such a gift to yourself and your loved ones: You and your family can rest easy knowing that you’re covered and protected, no matter what happens. If you ask us, that’s something to celebrate.

What to consider when making a will

Writing a will does not have to be intimidating or confusing. When composing your will, you simply need to keep a couple of things in mind in order to ensure that you’re covering all your bases:

  • Include guardians for children and caretakers for pets. If you have children who are minors, you should name caretakers for them in your will. The same goes for Fido and co.! People often forget to include caretakers for pets in their will, but you surely want to ensure that your furry companion is also taken care of in case you’re no longer there.

  • List your real estate, and what should happen to it. If you own real estate, you should be clear about what should happen to it when you’re no longer there. Do you want your loved ones to sell it, or should it go to your children once they’re adults? Don’t forget about things like holiday homes!

  • Make an inventory of all your belongings and accounts. Of course you should consider big items like vehicles and retirement accounts. But chequing accounts, non-registered investment accounts, furniture, and personal belongings such as clothes, books, and heirlooms should also not be forgotten. Make sure you note what should happen with them: Have you listed your kids as beneficiaries to your bank accounts? Should your clothes be donated? Should your friends get your comic book collection? These are all details that need to be recorded.

  • Include directions for your funeral. Few people like to think about their funeral, but it’s an aspect that shouldn’t be forgotten when writing your will. If you don’t include directions for what to do at your funeral and/or memorial service, your family may feel lost and anguished at trying to plan something that they believe represents your wishes. Make things easy for them and tell them exactly what you want!

  • Name Power of Attorneys. A power of attorney is another directive you should include in your will. A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person the power to take action on your behalf if you ever find yourself incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own. You might be incapacitated because of a debilitating injury or a disease like dementia, for example. POAs are powerful safeguards to ensure that your wishes are respected in the event that you’re unable to advocate for yourself while still alive.

Don’t forget to update your will regularly! Once you’ve written your will, you shouldn’t lock it away in some drawer and forget about it. A will should be regularly updated to reflect your current life situation. This is particularly true after major life events, such as weddings, births, and large purchases such as real estate.

It’s easier than you think!

You might think that you need a lawyer and a notary to write a legally binding will, and that you’ll probably have to rack up a bill in order to create this document. The truth is that you need neither a lawyer or a notary to write a will, and you can write a will without paying a cent!

While you can definitely write a will by yourself, ClearEstate wants to give people the chance to create their will for free while receiving expert advice from our team of estate professionals. ClearEstate believes that everyone should be able to write a comprehensive, professional will—for free.

As estate specialists, we know firsthand how difficult and painful it can be for families when a loved one dies without a will. We also know how much lighter people feel once they have a legal document that ensures their wishes will be followed, no matter what. Everyone should get to feel that feeling, no matter what age, background, or economic situation.

In honour of Make a Will Month, we’re offering everyone the opportunity to create their own lawyer-approved will for free. Check us out on Facebook or Instagram throughout the month of November for more info on how to get your free will.

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