Prince Didn’t Have a Will, Make Sure You Do!

May 3, 2016|By David Lester


Apparently Prince didn’t have a Will and a huge battle has broken out over his assets.  Don’t make the same mistake he did and make sure that you get the final word.  Jurisdictions change across Canada so make sure that you get a great lawyer and don’t have to stand out in the same purple rain.

A huge threat to families is not having an up-to-date will in a place where your executor, spouse or kids can find it. If you die without a will you do not have a say in who your beneficiaries are or who administers your estate.

Just like Prince’s family, a court gets involved and it can take quite some time, if you don’t have a Will. It is more costly due to the fact that you have an administrator appointed and because there are often many more individuals who are entitled to a share of your estate. Loved ones that you might have included in your will may not receive any of your stuff. Also, those who are entitled to receive part of your estate, if you die intestate, may receive a share that is larger or smaller than you would have chosen.

Here is a checklist to make sure you are covered.


Checklist for Preparing a Will

These are the things you’ll need before you head off to a lawyer to build your will.

  1. List of key documents like:
  • Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates
  • Deeds and mortgages
  • Bank account numbers (savings too)
  • Investment portfolio account numbers (RRSP, TFSA, etc.)
  • Insurance policy numbers
  • Funeral plans and burial lot information (Make them if you don’t have them.)
  1. List of your advisors, such as banker, lawyer, accountant, financial planner and insurance agent. Include all of the numbers, company names and addresses.
  2. Make sure your family and executor know where this information is located. Some of it may be needed right after your death. Don’t keep it with the will or under the bed.


What to Consider When Making Your Will

  1. Who will you select as executor and, if you wish, co-executor? Consider naming an alternate executor in case the executor is not around. Make sure they will agree to be your executor. Nemeses are a bad idea.
  2. Do you want to leave anyone something special? These requests are called “bequests” and are specific items of personal property (such as a car, jewellery, china, silver, dogs playing pool pictures, etc.) or a sum of money that you wish to leave to a specific person.
  3. To whom do you wish to leave the remainder of your estate? Love monkey? Kids? Charities? Me? Is it to go to them directly or through a trust? If it is being left to children, are they to receive it immediately or at some time in the future like when they are over 18?
  4. How do you want your estate distributed? Dropped from a hot air balloon, etc.
  5. If one of your kids (god forbid) has died at the time your will takes effect, do you want his or her kids to receive the deceased child’s share, or do you want it to go to your other children?
  6. Who will you name as a guardian for dependant children or disabled adult children? Make sure the guardian agrees to act!
  7. If you’re in a second marriage and both of you have children from previous marriages, you may wish to consider the available options. For example, the remainder of your estate can go to:
    • your spouse absolutely
    • your kids absolutely
    • your spouse for his or her use while alive, and then, after your spouse dies, to your children or
    • your children and the children of your spouse.

It is very important that you and your love monkey discuss the various scenarios and agree upon your plans. It’ll make for the best of a horrible situation.

  1. In the event that a minor (child, grandchild, great-grandchild, niece or nephew) inherits a share of your estate, who do you want to be the trustee of that minor’s share?
  2. If one of your beneficiaries is dead, who do you want to receive their share?
  3. Are you going to have a Power of Attorney prepared at the same time you make your will? If so, consider the following:
    • Who do you want to act on your behalf (this person is called your attorney)?
    • Will the attorney’s power be limited and specific or broad?
    • Do you want the attorney to have power to act if you should become incompetent?
    • Do you want to name somebody in your Power of Attorney to make decisions about your personal care if you become incompetent?
    • If you include a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, will you name the same person that is handling your financial affairs?

Everyone needs to see a lawyer to make sure their will and accompanying documents are all taken care of.  Prince passed so suddenly and is an example of what could happen if we don’t make sure that we have the final word.

If you have made a will over 5 years ago and things have changed, make sure to update it regularly. And don’t keep it so safely hidden no one will ever find it!  Make sure that you have a Will. It’ll make the ride to heaven in that Little Red Corvette worry free.


David Lester
About David Lester

David Lester is a best selling author and professional Financial Coach, helping people be better with their money. David has written a personal finance book that breaks with traditional attitudes towards finance and describes his own philosophy to money that he has gained through his personal and professional experiences. His philosophy on money applies to many areas of everyday life, including banking, investing, goal setting, shopping and entertainment.