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How do I make my first will?

Wills can be complex documents to create. Not only are they difficult at first, they need to be updated when there are significant changes in life circumstances – such as when someone buys their first property, gets married, or has kids.

But what should someone know about making his or her will the first time around? As outlined on the Sun Life Financial website, there are a couple of key considerations you may want to discuss with an experienced estate lawyer in order to determine how to draft a will best suited to your personal situation.

Some of the major considerations with drafting a will include: 

  • Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is someone who acts in your interests while you are still alive but unable to make decisions on your own. Many married couples name their spouse as their power of attorney. If you are not married, you may want to consider a trusted family member, such as a parent, sibling or an extended member such as a close cousin, or a family friend. In either case, the person you choose should be comfortable with the designation and with acting on your behalf where your health and finances are concerned. You can appoint more than one power of attorney. You can also change your power of attorney to a spouse or adult child in the future if you wish to do so.
  • Estate Trustee: An estate trustee is someone who manages your estate after you are gone. A power of attorney may look after your affairs while you are alive, but once you pass away, the authority over how to manage your estate transfers over to the estate trustee. Like a power of attorney, it’s common for surviving spouses to act in this role. In the event you are not married, you may wish to choose a trusted family member or friend. He or she will wind up your estate, take care of any debts, close any accounts and make sure beneficiaries receive what they were bequeathed. You can choose to name a spouse in this role if you get married in the future, or you can choose to appoint an adult child.

If you have questions over how to draft a will, or how to change a will following a marriage, divorce or birth/adoption of a child, it’s best to speak with an experienced legal professional. He or she will help you identify all parts of estate planning that you should consider, and how best to organize a will according to your wishes.

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