There are many different varieties of Trust, and this can become confusing to anybody not familiar with the relationship between Trusts and Wills. In this article we will give an overview of Trusts, what they mean, how they work, and which types of trusts can be incorporated into your Will. At LegalWills.ca we support a number of different types of trusts, but certainly not all of them. It is also important to be certain when reading about trusts that you are reading Canadian material. Resources from the United States are very different, and much of the US information is not applicable to Canadians with Canadian assets.
What exactly is a Trust?
A trust is made up of three components. There is a “Grantor” (or “Settlor” or “Trustor”) who describes the parameters of the trust. There is a “Trustee” who manages the trust once it is set up, and then there is a “Beneficiary” of the trust – the person who benefits from the trust being in place. The key point is that by making the Trustee manage the contents of the trust on behalf of the beneficiary, there is more control over the contents of the trust. The beneficiary does not control the trust themselves.
Completing your Will is an important step, but it is not the only thing that needs to be done to get your affairs in order. Working through the suggestions below will not only help you organize all of your assets, but will also ensure a smooth process for your surviving loved ones.
Store Your Will and Be Sure That Your Executor Knows Where it is Stored
Once you have signed your Will in the presence of two witnesses, who in turn sign the document, it is a legal Last Will and Testament. At this point, you simply need to store the document in a place that is known and accessible to your Executor.
Your Executor is the only person who needs access to the Will. You do not need to share the document with your beneficiaries or family members. Some people simply give the Will to their Executor (or alternate Executor) for safe keeping in a sealed envelope.
There is no requirement to store the Will with any particular registry, and there is no requirement to register the document with any court or government department (this is done after you have died).
Your Will is a document that can be updated throughout your lifetime. Any time you make a change to your Will, you should sign the new document in the presence of witnesses. Ideally, any older Will should be destroyed, although this is not a requirement. Your most recently signed and dated Will is your “Last” Will and Testament and the only one that is active (assuming that it meets the legal requirements for a Will).