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Will Checklist

Instructions: This checklist serves as a reminder of key points to consider as the planner reviews the wills of the client and spouse.

Does the will reflect the client's current situation and not contain sections that may be obsolete? For example, is the will current for:
  • province of residence?
  • tax law changes?
  • executor suitability?
  • guardian suitability?
  • birth or death of an heir?

Does the will identify the sources from which debts of the deceased, funeral expenses, and estate administrative costs will be paid?

Does the will identify the sources from which taxes will be paid?

Are there bequests to charity either outright or in trust?

Does the will call for the disposition of a closely held business according to the client's wishes?

If a non-corporate executor is named, is there a provision for a co-executor? (If not, are there reasons why naming a co-executor might be appropriate?)

Do any potential conflicts of interest exist between the names executor and the beneficiaries under the will?

Is the individual or institution named as executor competent to carry out the duties of administering the estate?

Does the will name an alternate or successor executor?

Has the executor's bond requirement been waived in the will?

Are specific powers granted to the executor? Some of these powers may be to:

  • retain or sell property
  • invest at his/her discretion trust and estate assets
  • exercise stock options
  • manage real estate
  • allocate receipts and disbursements of income and principal
  • make loans and borrow funds
  • settle claims
  • make decisions relating to the deceased's business interests
  • distribute property in specie
  • perform other appropriate duties

Does the will provide for disposition of property if an heir predeceases the client?

Does the will state who will receive property if the beneficiary disclaims it?

Is the ownership of the assets complementary to the provisions of the will, i.e. some assets may pass outside of the will by contract or by type of ownership?

Is the custody of minors satisfactorily addressed?

Does the will specify that any minor beneficiary's shares of the estate will be held until he/she reaches a more mature age?

Does the will provide for a guardianship or trust to protect the inheritance of disabled or incompetent beneficiaries?

Does the will give the executor the authority to make income tax elections in his discretion?

If there is a spousal trust, does it comply with the spousal trust rules?