National Post (Latest Edition) - Financial Post Magazine - - CONTENTS -

You may not care, but you can make your death eas­ier on your fam­ily with a lit­tle plan­ning.

Death. A sweet re­lease? Hardly, at least for your fam­ily and as­so­ciates, es­pe­cially if you didn’t leave ex­plicit in­struc­tions on how to divide up your es­tate and that in­cludes your col­lec­tion of Elvis cu­rios. An­tiques? Maybe in your eyes. Me­mora­bilia? Again, maybe. But us­ing such terms doesn’t hold sway with a judge if one of your heirs de­cides to chal­lenge your wishes. “Never use words like an­tiques, me­mora­bilia, my stuff, in your will be­cause they are not de­fin­able,” says Les Kotzer, a Thorn­hill, Ont.-based wills lawyer and au­thor of four books in­clud­ing The Wills Lawyer . “I had a guy come in who had a home­made will that said ‘I leave ev­ery­thing to my best friends and my favourite rel­a­tives.’ I said, ‘What the hell, who are th­ese peo­ple?’”

Jil­lian Bryan, port­fo­lio manager and in­vest­ment ad­vi­sor at TD Wealth, says it’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that changes in mar­i­tal sta­tus, the birth or death of a fam­ily mem­ber, or a change in fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion or em­ploy­ment sta­tus are fac­tors that could re­quire you to up­date your es­tate plan. To the right are some more is­sues that need your at­ten­tion.

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