Estates & Wills & Trusts

How to prepare for your meeting with an estates lawyer

By Staff

Testators can help smooth the process of drawing up a will by getting their documents in order ahead of their first meeting with counsel, Toronto wills and estates lawyer Lisa Laredo tells

Laredo, principal of Laredo Law, says the key details she needs to know from clients break down into a number of broad categories, listed below.

Personal Information

Before starting work on a will, Laredo says she needs some basic personal information on her clients, including identification, citizenship and marital status.

She say’s it’s important for testators to know that drawing up a new will automatically revokes any old ones previously prepared.

In addition, if their marital status is due to change, that could be important too, since Laredo says many people are unaware that marriage automatically revokes a will in Ontario, as well as a number of other jurisdictions in Canada.


Testators should provide a lawyer with information on their spouse if applicable, as well as any dependants they have, including children.

“You should include all contact information for each of your dependants and spouse,” Laredo adds.

For parents of children with disabilities, Laredo says extra thought may have to go into the options they have for making sure the child is properly cared for in the event the testator dies.

“You may want to look at insurance policies or Henson trusts, and whether there will be enough money so that the children will still be able to maintain the same lifestyle,” she says.

Who gets what

Testators should draw up a list of all their assets, including the names of the people or institutions that manage them. The same goes for liabilities, including student or credit card debt and mortgages.

She says testators should also come to the meeting with the names of the people they intend to inherit their money, investments, insurance policies, real estate, personal effects and any residue.

“It’s also useful to know whether you intend to set up any trusts,” Laredo adds.

Other Advisors

She says it’s important for lawyers to know whether testators have an accountant or financial advisor and whether they have spoken to them about tax advice and succession planning, to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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