Legal Matters

Spring has come early this year, and that means getting outside for some fresh air, to enjoy the warmer weather, and to do some spring cleaning.

But what to do if a rainy day interrupts your outside plans? I suggest this might be a good opportunity for you to dust off a copy of your Last Will and Testament, and remind yourself of what it says.

Chances are that your Will is also due for some “spring cleaning!”

When reviewing your Will, ask yourself the following questions as a starting point:

Who did you appoint as Executor and Estate Trustee in your existing Will? Since you last did your Will, has your relationship with the Executor changed? Does the Executor live close by in a convenient location to administer your Estate? Or have they moved away to a place that might make it more difficult for them to deal with your assets and other Estate administration matters? Does your Executor have any current health or other age related considerations, and are they still the appropriate person for the task?

How is the inheritance from your Estate to be distributed, and to whom? Has your relationship with any of the named beneficiaries changed since you last did your Will? Have any of the beneficiaries named in your Will pre-deceased you, or are there any health or other special considerations affecting the beneficiaries that need to be addressed in an updated Will?

If you named grandchildren or minor beneficiaries in your Will,
did you stipulate that their inheritance be held in trust for them, and if so until what age or upon what terms? Perhaps it’s a good time to re-consider if the terms of their inheritance need to be updated now if some time has passed since you last did your Will.

If you have Charitable gifts included in your Will, have you reviewed your Will recently to ensure that the legal name of the Charity is up-to-date, the named Charity still exists, and your Will reference the accurate Charitable Registration Number for this organization?

If you have infant children, have you included a Guardianship provision in your Will for minor beneficiaries under the age of 18? If you do have a Guardianship provision in your Will, is it still relevant if your children are now over age 18, or should such provision be deleted from your Will at this point in time now that your children are older? If a Guardianship provision is still relevant in your Will, whom have you appointed as Guardian of your minor children, and do you feel this person is still appropriate based on your relationship with them now and their current life circumstances?

Of course, these are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself when reviewing your Will, and there are likely many more important considerations based on your specific circumstances. The important thing to remember is that your Will should not be a “set it and forget it” sort of thing… your Will like your house and yard requires a little spring cleaning from time to time.


This article was written by:
Jason P. Mallory, of Mallory Law in Chatham & Blenheim, is the recipient of the Margaret E. Rintoul Award in Estate Planning

*Comments in this article are not meant as legal opinions. Readers are cautioned not to act on information provided without specific legal advice with respect to their particular situation.

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