Wills, Powers of Attorney and Estate Planning
Do I really need a will?
Modern living is very complicated whether you are single, married, or living in common law with a partner.
Every adult person in Ontario needs a will.
A will is the single most important device that you can use to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you die.
Without a will, when you die there is a possibility there will be greater sadness and loss for those you leave behind.
Why do I need a lawyer when I can simply do a will kit?
Yes, you need a lawyer.
If anybody were to challenge your will, there is a much stronger likelihood that your wishes will not be carried out after you die if your Will was prepared without the skill and attention of a lawyer.
I already have a will but I am getting separated (or married) do I need to update it?
Yes, you need to review whether your current will be satisfactory for your new position in life.
If there ever be a challenge as to the meaning of your will, the fact that you have a will prepared with your change in life and mind stands the best chance that your wishes will be carried out. By way of example, it is a good idea before marriage to make a will anticipating that you will be married. The will itself will include words to the effect “I intend this my will to be effective in the event of my marriage to …..”
What are my legal costs? Are there any other costs I need to worry about for budgeting purposes?
ften the legal expense of wills can be determined in advance depending on your circumstances.
Most persons need more than just a will. Most individuals need 3 documents.
- a will, that names your choice for an executor with powers to control your property after you die.
- a power of attorney for property, that names your choice for an attorney with powers to control your property while you are alive but incapable.
- a power of attorney for personal care, that names your choice for an executor with powers to control your body and health care while you are alive but incapable.
The circumstances that can determine the cost of your will include:
For A Single Person With No Support Obligations; Often, due to the simplicity of an individual’s circumstances, the legal cost is low in comparison to other circumstances. Please ask us for our current charge and/or a free estimate.
A Couple In An Original Marriage; Also, a couple in an original marriage with children only of that marriage can obtain their wills and powers of attorney at a low expense in comparison to more complex circumstances. Please ask us for our current charge and/or a free estimate.
More Complex Circumstances Such As Such As Common Law Partnerships, Second Marriages And Blended Relationships; Often modern living can require a great deal of thought when making one’s wills and powers of attorney. There can be a consideration of your wishes concerning an original family, stepchildren, insurance and more. Though these costs be higher than some circumstances, a careful early discussion can identify most costs in advance. There are options that are interesting for both partners whether the marry or not. Please ask us for our current charge and/or a free estimate.
In all cases: Legal costs are made up of a combination of legal fees plus HST, out-of-pocket disbursements and registration costs. When securing quotes for legal services be sure to ask for all costs and not simply the legal fee.
If possible, obtain the fee quote in writing.
I provide legal fee quotes upon request.
Lawyers offer a lot more than simply filling in the blanks. In addition to receiving your instructions, we provide counsel on your estate plan, look at your family dynamics and assets, canvass appropriate candidates for executor or attorneys so that you make a clear and informed decision on your will, powers of attorney and estate plan.
Once you have made that decision, a lawyer offers the opportunity to receive your instructions and clearly draft your exact intentions, thus avoiding ambiguity and misinterpretation which could lead to further costs or ill feelings.
Further, your lawyer provides integrity to the execution process of your wills and powers of attorney giving added protection against challenge due to issues such as incapacity to sign the documents, provide instructions, or potential undue influence from third parties.
Where are the wills kept when they are completed?
We ensure that your documents are protected whether you keep the originals or entrust them to us.
When we have finished our work the documents are distributed as you may direct.
Copies: you will always have a complete set of digital files that we deliver to you by email. They are a true and correct copy, as signed and executed, of the originals. You will be guided as to how you should keep them.
Originals: you have choices and can retain the originals in your own physical possession, or you can entrust them to us.
If you entrust them to us you can be confident that :
- that the originals are maintained in a fireproof/bombproof enclosure
- You can recover the originals back at no charge any time simply by giving a written request.
- In the event that I was no longer in business or deceased, your original documents will be under the safe control of my associate in law, Dennis McEniry.
- In the event that neither Dennis McEniry nor I were in business, or deceased, that you will be notified of where you can recover your original documents and in the ultimate event you can recover them through making inquiries with the Law Society of Ontario.
What is probate and why would I need it?
“Probate” is an old legal term, still often used, to describe the process where a court will approve a deceased person’s last will and testament.
The word “probate” derives from the Latin verb “probate” meaning “to prove”.
Since about 1994 in Ontario the probate process has been changed to mean applying to the court for a “Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee”. The short form for this is CAET.
The purpose is to obtain a certificate that the will is the authentic will of the deceased and that the “executor” [now called an “estate trustee” is authorized to act under the will.
What drives the need to obtain probate or as now called CAET is that the public assets of the deceased cannot be passed on to the beneficiaries until the court approves the will or the appointment of an estate trustee without a will.
The term “public assets” is generally used to describe the assets that require court approval of the will before they can be transferred. For the most part these assets are land, publicly traded stocks and assets held by banks and trust companies .
The term “private assets” is generally used to describe your private property such as coin collections, art, shares in the private corporation. Sometimes people will instruct their lawyer to prepare both a public and private will. With both wills, public and private, there can sometimes be considerable savings of both lawyer’s fees and Estate Administration Tax.
What are Powers of Attorney and why do I need them?
Every adult person needs a power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for personal care. Though they share the same name in part, “attorney”, they are very different documents.
You need a power of attorney for property so that, in the event of your illness or inability to represent yourself, your attorney can stand in your place and bind you as if it were you signing. This can be very important when it is necessary to sell the residence, transfer assets at a time when you are unable to take on that responsibility.
You need a power of attorney for personal care so that, if you are disabled and cannot speak for yourself, your attorney can ensure that your healthcare needs are taken care of. It makes a difference of someone speaking for you.
Suite One (Ground Floor)
3310 South Service Road
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
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