10 Steps to Preparing Your Will

  • By Klayman & Company
  • 09 Dec, 2016

Listed below are the details on how to work through the ten steps to making a Will.

1. Itemize Your Assets

Although you do not need an inventory of everything you own, it’s helpful to list assets such as your home, cottage, rental properties, business interests, life insurance, and registered savings plans such as RRSPs or RRIFs. You will also need to list special or sentimental items, such as a stamp collection or your grandfather’s gold watch. It is very important that you identify where everything is, remember you may know about that bank account around the corner from your house or the savings bonds in the bottom drawer, however your executor will not. Remember to provide password to accounts, documents or computers your executor might need.

2. Estimate the potential size of your estate

Try to get an idea of just how much you’re dealing with. This is especially important if you want to leave specific sums to different people or groups. It’s also important to help ensure you have enough to see your wishes carried out. For instance, if you want your children to be able to keep the family cottage, you should make sure there is enough money available for the taxes your children will have to pay on its appreciated value.

3. Consider your beneficiaries

Make a list of all those who you would like to provide for in your Will. Friends, distant relatives, organizations, and charities may all play important roles in your life. You can lay out specific instructions about the money or property you would like to leave them.

Make a note of any special requirements, or any conditions you’d like to attach.

4. Distributing your assets: Deciding who gets what

This may seem like the simplest step, but a word of advice: Don’t rush through it!

You need to take a little time to think through many different scenarios. For example, say you want to leave a portion to a sibling. You’ll need to come up with a back-up plan in case they should die before you. Here are some other possibilities you’ll need to consider:
If you have children from a previous marriage, will they be provided for if you leave everything to your current spouse?
What will happen to your children’s inheritance if your spouse remarries?
Who should receive your assets if your children die before you and your spouse?
What if your children divorce? You may want to include a special clause to prevent their former spouse(s) from claiming a share of the income earned on their inheritance.
If you are married, sit down with your spouse and discuss how you want your assets to be managed and distributed. You may decide to leave everything to each other, but you also need to discuss what you want done if you both die at the same time.
Spend some time considering who will get your various personal effects and possessions. You can and should decide who should get everything from the family photo albums to that favourite sketch. Without some forethought, disputes can easily arise over sentimental items of no monetary value, even if you’ve fairly divvied up your assets on a financial basis.
Finally, consider whether or not your family will be able to properly manage money or assets you leave them. If you have concerns, consider using a trust company to administer part or all of your estate on behalf of some or all of your heirs. Having a trust means you hand over money to someone such as an advisor or trust company. They in turn take care of that money – managing it, investing it, distributing it and so on – for the benefit of the people you name.
5. Go over the registration and official ownership of your assets

If you intend to leave property such as a house or cottage, make sure you own it outright and not jointly. Jointly-held property automatically goes to the surviving partner when you die. Check whom you have named as beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF and life insurance policies. Your advisor may have a summary of all these important details.

6. Decide who will care for your children

Select who you want to be responsible for raising your children should you die (their legal guardian or in Quebec, tutor).

Don’t automatically pick your own parents, or the children’s favourite uncle. Consider any potential guardian’s age, their own children, professional responsibilities, location, and their state of health.
Discuss your wishes with your top candidate and be sure they are willing to accept the responsibility before including them in your Will. Obtain their full address and full legal name.
Name a back up in case your first choices can’t – or won’t – take on the responsibility if and when the time comes.
7. Minimize Your Estate’s Tax Bill

Ensure you have arranged your affairs to keep income taxes and probate fees to a minimum; for example, name your spouse as beneficiary of your RRSP or RRIF to take advantage of the tax-deferred rollover. Determine whether you will have enough cash in your estate to pay your final tax bill – which could be much larger than you think – or if assets will have to be sold to pay the taxes.

If your estate is large or complicated – or if you have a family business – it’s generally wise to seek professional help.

8. Decide who will wind up your affairs

When you die, there is a great deal of work to be done. Someone needs to deal with CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) distribute your assets, settle with creditors, and ensure any remaining family are cared for. The person or company you choose to handle these tasks is generally known as your executor.

Give careful consideration to choosing your executor. Ideally, the person will be trustworthy, have good business sense, be able to handle the paperwork, and be living nearby.
Choose an alternative executor in case the first one cannot do the job.
If you choose a family member or friend, be sure to ask if they would be able and willing to take on the job. It can be very time consuming and typically involves a lot of paperwork. Some people may not have the time or inclination.
You can choose a professional or a company such as a trust company to serve as your executor.
You can have the executor’s tasks shared between different individuals or organizations. For instance, if your first pick is a family member, and your estate is substantial, you may want to appoint a trust company as co-executor. The family member will be knowledgeable about your personal and financial situation, while the trust company will be up-to-date on the latest legal and tax rules.
Remember to discuss fees. An executor, whether a friend or a professional may be entitled to be paid a fee for acting as your executor. If your will does not consider fees, then the trustee may use tariffs set by the courts, these amounts can be substantial.
9. Revise your plan

At this stage, take a little time to look over your decisions. Family dynamics need to be considered. For example, you may decide gifting assets away while you are alive may suit you better.

It’s also important to get your lawyer’s perspective at this point. Because your Will may be the most important legal document you’ll ever sign, you will likely want to have it drawn up properly by a lawyer. Incorporate your lawyer’s suggestions, revisit your choices, and finalize your decisions.

It’s also important to get your accountant’s advice. Your Will will have very significant income implications to both your estate and your beneficaries. Generally your lawyer will not deal with income tax issues.

10. Complete your Will and finalize your arrangements

The legal fees to draft a legal Will, can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to around $2,000. The final bill will depend on the complexity of your situation, and how much work you’ve done ahead of time. You’ll save money and time spent with your lawyer – and help ensure your Will is complete – by doing the preparation we suggest here.

Be sure to arrive with all the appropriate information you’ll need when you meet with your lawyer.
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Because lighting, heating and cooling represent 19%-25% of the cost of operating a commercial business, control of energy costs is essential to improving profit margins. A reduction of even 10% in these costs can produce a significant improvement. But, because Canada is located in a part of the world where temperatures can range from 40C below zero to 35C above, it is inevitably expensive to keep internal temperatures at levels needed to maintain comfortable working conditions through the changing seasons.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Setting the price point for your product or service is not simply the process of determining the cost of production then adding a mark-up. It is more a matter of understanding the price the consumer will accept as the value of your product or service and keeping the costs of production to a level that will give you a profit at that price.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

The significant rise in the cost of equipment, vehicles, real estate, and inventory has prompted many businesses to increase business debt. Low interest rates, combined with the ability to obtain larger loans with extended payment terms, have allowed businesses to operate in a “business as usual” mode with less consideration for the actual cost of borrowing.

To give some idea of the effect of even low interest rates on an owner-managed business, the following key elements of most businesses have been put forward as an example of the effect of interest costs on a business. The effect of domestic borrowing has been added to show the full impact of current interest rates on the owner-manager. Since lending rates vary widely depending on a variety of factors such as risk, item to be funded and the term, and are usually negotiated, the interest rates used below have been chosen at random from Internet sources; calculations are approximate and for illustrative purposes only . All loans have been made effective June 1, 2017.

  • Commercial mortgage: $600,000 over 25 years at 3%
  • Two work vehicles: $120,000 financed over five years at 6%
  • Equipment loan: $200,000 financed over five years at 5%
  • Operating line of credit: $50,000 at 3% a year
  • Credit card debt: $10,000 at 15% a year on the outstanding balance

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

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By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

“The government gave me money back” is a common phrase often heard after the April 30 or June 15 filing deadline. The truth is that the government is not being charitable; it is only refunding the tax that you or your employer had overpaid throughout the year.

Because the rate of tax withheld at source throughout the year may be different than the tax rate applicable to your actual taxable income (after taking into consideration all other income and deductions), you might have remitted more money to Ottawa than was necessary. Your "tax refund" is the difference between your remittances and your actual tax liability.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that, upon filing of their personal income tax returns, people with a lower income will likely receive a tax refund while people with a higher income will usually end up owing tax. This is not necessarily true because the tax refund/liability is not based on your income level but rather on the difference between the remittances paid compared to the actual tax liability.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Fred Tarasoff loves music. In fact, he used to own a record store, but had to go out of business in 1989 in large part because of inventory losses through shoplifting. Then he was assaulted by a shoplifter while he was running a health food store. Since that time, he has devoted himself to researching shoplifting and the retail industry in order to develop training programs to prevent and detect shoplifting. He currently works closely with law enforcement, industry associations and security firms to fight this crime. In the course of this work, Mr. Tarasoff has developed a simple way to calculate the losses suffered from shoplifting.

According to Mr. Tarasoff, even if your business has excellent controls, you can expect losses will approximate 1% of gross sales. Thus, if your retail store sells $600,000 a year, at least $6,000 will be missing from your sales figure. But, if your business does not have good controls, losses could be as high as 8% or $48,000 on $600,000 of gross sales. If your store works on a 20% gross margin your business is out $38,400 (i.e., 80% the sales loss of $48,000).

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Liberalisation of Canada's marijuana laws appears to be imminent. The Cannabis Act is currently expected to become law in 2018 and will decriminalize certain activities and make marijuana more widely available under a controlled production, distribution and sales system. Whether or not you agree with the intent of the proposed Cannabis Act , the loosening of the laws governing the sale and use of marijuana raises important questions for businesses regarding health, safety and legal liability.  

Most provincial and territorial occupational health and safety regulations require an employer to take all reasonable means to ensure the protection of their workers. The employer also has a reasonable expectation that employees should not be impaired on the job. The question then becomes when are employees impaired and whether, if they believe themselves to be impaired, they are required to inform their employer.

By Klayman & Company 21 Mar, 2017

Our need for passwords to access everything in our life has become pervasive. Every agency, every computer, every credit card, every smartphone requires an exponential explosion of letters, numbers, and symbols to secure all information from hackers, whether it is personal data or corporate information.

To complicate matters, it is no longer permissible (or advisable) on many sites to use a simple password that is easy to remember, such as a word or name. Instead you must create a password with numbers, special characters, upper and lower case letters, and a minimum length.

One study suggests the average individual has at least 25 Internet-accessible accounts with passwords, while other sources suggest that number could be substantially higher. Is it any wonder that most individuals will, whenever possible, assign the same password to as many accounts as they can? Hackers know this and once they compromise one account, it often doesn’t take long to gain access to your other accounts.

Use Different Passwords

The best means of protecting your personal information is to use a different, unguessable password for every account. Most password management software includes the ability to generate passwords, and then store them for you. The beauty of using a password manager is that you only have to remember one password to access all of the passwords you need to remember.

High-end password managers support multiple languages and are able to tie in passwords with hundreds of websites. Two-factor authentication is usually required (and should be!) to protect data in the event someone finds your password and logs in on your device or tries to log in on a new device that is not registered.

Set Up

Setting up a password management app generally requires you to download and install the software and add browser extensions for each browser you use. If you use multiple devices, you will need to load the app on each one. To set up an account, you will use your email address and will need to come up with a master password or passphrase (i.e., one long, hard-to-guess password to rule them all).

One primary password gives you access to all your passwords.

After creating the master password comes the arduous task of entering data about the various accounts or sites you need to access.

Some password managers will import your user names, auto fill standard information, and pull passwords from your existing browsers, although, if you haven’t saved the passwords in the browser, the data will have to be entered manually. The password manager will typically assess the strength of your current password, and prompt you to generate a new, stronger password (typically at least 16 characters) for that site. Experts also suggest that you revisit your security questions and determine whether you want to change them as an added security measure.

Don’t Forget Your Master Password

Unlike a typical website with a “forgot password?” feature, the master password is often not recoverable in that way. There are very few password manager systems that provide a “hint” to enable you to try to rebuild your password. For most, you will have to start all over and rebuild the passwords for every site and every account keystroke by keystroke. Commit your master password to memory; do not click “remember my password” for your master password; typing it often will help you to remember it.

Cost Factor

Most of the providers of password manager software provide free trial subscriptions; several offer a limited version of their software for free, with the ability to upgrade for additional features and support for an annual fee. Freebie options aside, password manager services typically range in price from $20 to $60 annually.

In Case of Emergency …

If a person is incapacitated or dead it will be impossible for someone else to access the accounts. It is important to ensure that the software used provides the ability to set up an emergency contact to inherit your passwords. Some providers allow you to set a waiting period before a trusted individual can access the codes so that the accounts cannot be accessed while you are alive. If someone tries to access your accounts, you will be notified by email. Other providers allow you to designate specific accounts, such as the business account, that can be accessed by specific people, such as your business partner, or to designate personal accounts to a trusted relative or friend.

Large Benefit for Small Cost

Strong passwords are a necessity for everyone, and we all tend to use passwords that are easy to crack; this makes us easy targets for nefarious people looking to steal our information, money or identities. Using a password manager is an inexpensive way of ensuring access to the ever-growing number of sites we must access in our interconnected world while making it difficult for anyone else to gain access to our personal and financial information.

By Klayman & Company 21 Mar, 2017

No matter what the economic conditions, some business worries never go away. Here are a few tips on how to handle some of these eternal problems.

Cash Flow

Customers will continue to extend payments over 90 days.

Understand your cash flow. At the end of each week, review accounts receivable, and accounts payable and make sure you know what you must pay in withholding taxes. Do not use your source deductions to pay suppliers unless those deductions are actually in the bank. Send requests for funds to suppliers before the end of the month.

Owner-Manager Fatigue

Overworked and underpaid will continue to be the mantra.

Learn to pace yourself. Work to make money not save money. Work at what you do best and delegate the rest. Consider that if you work 2,000 hours per year and your business has sales of $400,000, you are effectively generating $200 of revenue per hour. Ask yourself why you are trying to learn how to do something a subcontractor can do in a day.

Maintaining Customer Base

Maintaining clients while working to get new ones is going to be a challenge.

In tough times, even long-time customers may ask you to cut your costs or they may cut back their orders. Review the profit on your best customers, not just their sales volume. Visit the customer and find out their expectations for the coming year. Consider limiting services to marginally profitable customers.


Finding and keeping good employees is never easy.

Older employees may retire and good employees may leave. New, inexperienced employees do not solve short-term problems.

Happy employees are loyal and productive. Be approachable. Let employees tell you what they need. Employees always appreciate a bigger pay cheque, but a good working environment and feeling valued will also go a long way to keeping employees.


The cost of everything will continue to rise.

Capital asset costs, fuel, property taxes, light, heat, power, insurance, and maintenance will continue to rise and put pressure on your cash flow. The same cost pressures will also affect the standard of living of your own family and the families of your employees.

Evaluate all aspects of business costs and perks. Look at discounts, value added and other incentives provided to clients. Review perks to employees and determine whether there are more economical solutions that will retain the good will of the employees but not put more pressure on your cash flow.

Technology and Changing Demands

Keeping up with new developments will be a challenge .

Changes in technology, process, or client needs require training and financing to transition from the tried and true. Budget for the inevitable or you risk being outflanked by the competition.

Social media is changing the entire marketing process.

Marketing and Advertising

Connecting with customers will continue to be a challenge.

Maximizing your brand is difficult at the best of times; unfortunately, social media is making the entire marketing process even more problematic. Analyze your market and decide whether the best way to reach potential customers is: one-to-one contact, social media, online advertising, television, radio, newspapers, or magazines. You may find that more and more dollars have to be spent to create a cross-media presence that provides the same information without any guarantee of a return on investment.

Consider a short-term contract with a marketing specialist to review your company and its client base to help determine the best combination of media to reach your target market. Then, develop a plan to deploy your advertising budget to the appropriate media.

Maintaining Control

Managing all sectors of the business will continue to be a challenge.

Managing sales, manufacturing, ordering, marketing, human resources and administration as well as dealing with the considerable number of regulatory agencies will continue to become more complex. Trying to do everything yourself will undoubtedly lead to failure in one or more areas.

Control your business by managing rather than doing. Find the best person to run each particular part of the business. Define their responsibilities with a detailed and accurate job description and schedule regular reports. This will enable you to understand what is happening within the organization, solve problems and improve operations. Have faith in your subordinates.


Red tape is and will continue to be the nemesis of small business.

Research suggests that these compliance issues consume eight weeks of employee time per year.

Because collecting and providing information to governments and regulators cannot be avoided, owner-managers should institute in-house procedures and write manuals. Reduce the use of employee time and associated costs by purchasing reporting software. If you do not have in-house expertise, arrange for a third party to prepare regular reports. Filing reports correctly and on time eliminates the cost and stress that follows from non-compliance.

Plan Ahead

The size and complexity of these and similar issues will move forward in lockstep with the business. Analyzing each potential conflict area and developing a process to stave off potential problems is an excellent offensive tactic that will lessen the cost and uncertainty of moving forward for the balance of 2017 and beyond.

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