Peace of Mind: Step by Step Process of Planning Your Will

July 23, 2020

The Estates & Trusts lawyers at Cox & Palmer are here to help you prepare your will, walking you through the important steps now for peace of mind later.

Step 1 – Preparation
The first step is to make contact with a member of our Estates group by email or telephone. After our initial discussion, you may receive a questionnaire to complete which will help organize the information needed to prepare your will. We will also schedule an appointment to meet at this time.

Step 2 – Meeting Options
The meeting with your lawyer can take place by telephone, video conference, or in person. This initial meeting will take approximately one hour. During this meeting, you and your lawyer will discuss the details of your questionnaire, including your selection of an executor, your current assets and your plans for them.

Step 3 – Will Draft
Following the initial meeting with your lawyer, once they have gathered the information needed, they will prepare a draft will and send it to you to review. The draft can be sent by email or as a hard copy in the mail. After you have had an opportunity to review the draft, the lawyer will call you to discuss and answer any questions. Some people wish to meet again in person with their lawyer to review the draft will, which we are happy to do. If you would like to make changes to your will at this stage, the lawyer will make your edits ensuring the will meets your needs.

Step 4 – Signing Your Will
Once you are satisfied with the contents of your will, the final step is to sign the document. The law requires that a will must be signed in a specific way, or else it will not be valid. Typically, the will is signed at a final meeting in our office where the lawyer confirms the contents with you before you sign. You may also sign your will in front of two witnesses somewhere other than in our office. We would provide you with specific instructions on how to properly do this. We do, however, recommend that the will be signed in our office with a lawyer as a witness to ensure it is valid.

Step 5 – Safe Storage of Your Will
Once your will is signed, you may keep the original document and store it safely. Some people use a safety deposit box at the bank or a personal fire-proof lock box. You are also welcome to leave your original copy in our will vault for safe keeping at no charge. It is important to let your family members know where your will is stored.

Step 6 – Updating Your Will
Estate lawyers are often asked how often wills should be updated. Consider updating your will every time a major event happens in your life. A wedding, a new baby, purchase of a house, growth of a business: these things should all trigger an update to your will. Updates can be made with your lawyer and result in the confidence of knowing that your affairs are now in order.

If you are ready to make your will, or need to update your current will, please contact any member of our Estates team across the region.

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Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.