Wills: A difficult, but necessary discussion


Talking about money can be uncomfortable. And if there’s one financial topic that’s especially hard to discuss with our families, it’s wills. No one wants to contemplate their own death. That’s why so many of us put off writing or updating our will.

Why it’s hard

There are many reasons we may find it hard to talk about wills with our family. We might worry that our children will feel they’re being treated unequally, or we may have concerns about favouritism. "Talking about powers of attorney and wills means bringing up illness and death," says Angela Iermieri, a financial planner with Desjardins. And that’s never easy.

Family discussions

It can be a real struggle for parents, given life’s uncertainties and the fact that every child is different. They may be worried about the potential for family conflict after they’re gone. They might even want to have their kids read their will before getting it certified by a notary.

Before you finalize your power of attorney and will, you should discuss them with your family. "That way, there are no surprises. They’ll feel reassured, knowing your final wishes and your estate terms and conditions, and who you’ve appointed executor," says Iermieri.

Getting your affairs in order

Making an inventory of your assets and documenting the process is essential. You should also make sure that your family has all the information they need to settle your estate. You’ll want to attach supporting documents such as your birth certificate, your marriage/divorce certificates, your prearranged funeral invoice and a copy of your notarized will.

"To make things easier, I always advise people to prepare a document with all their financial information for their heirs," says Iermieri. "It should include your insurance policy details such as the name of your insurer, policy number, insurance amount, beneficiary’s name, and the name and contact information of the advisor in charge of the file."

"Poor estate planning can have tax impacts on heirs," says Iermieri. "Assets are deemed to have been sold upon their owner's death, and taxes can reduce the net value of the assets transferred. With estate planning and a notarized will, not only will you be able to maximize the value of the assets you leave your loved ones, you’ll also save them unnecessary emotional and financial stress."