LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Dying Without a Will
If you have absolutely no property (assets) or don’t care what happens to the property you do have, then you probably don’t need a Will. But you are the minority. The vast majority of people do have property of some kind, and do care that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. And yet a considerable number do NOT have Wills. You are not alone in procrastinating about getting one made, but one thing might help get you started, and that is to learn what will happen if you die without a Will.
Read more about Dying Without a Will.
The $29.95 Will Kit
Lawyers as a group are against these kits not only for self-serving reasons, but for public interest reasons. The self-serving part is that obviously the money spent on the $29.95 Will kit is not spent in a lawyer's office, although a good percentage of our clients have bought the Will kit and either cannot figure it out, or realize the subject is complicated and end up in our office anyway.
Lawyers take pride in providing cost-effective legal services, and feel that a "legal Will kit" will not necessarily provide the purchaser with a product that truly suits their needs. Ironically, the cost of the kit could end up not being cheap at all. Many court applications are brought about by incorrectly signed Wills or Wills that can be interpreted in different ways by different beneficiaries. "Do it yourself" Wills often fail to properly consider all relevant issues.
Read more about The $29.95 Will Kit and Do It Yourself Wills.
Preparing for Your Appointment
If after reading a little about do-it-yourself Wills, you realize you need to see a professional, the first step is to make an appointment, because that will be the catalyst you need to complete the process. Then you need to carefully consider who you will appoint executor to manage your assets after you are gone, what your assets are exactly, who will be the beneficiaries of those assets, and perhaps what arrangements you would like regarding your interment.
Read more about Preparing for Your Will Appointment.
Giving to Charity
Financial planners are predicting a huge intergenerational transfer of wealth over the next many years, yet very few individuals we have seen in our office provide for charitable legacies in their estate plans. There may be a number of reasons for this, but they mostly come down to a lack of knowledge—about the process involved, about the various ways it can be done, and / or about the consequences to the estate.
Read more about Making a Charitable Legacy Part of Your Estate Plan.
Trusts for Disabled Beneficiaries
Providing for a mentally or physically disabled beneficiary can make your Will more complex, but it is imperative that it be done correctly, because there are a number of problems that can arise in this situation. A direct bequest can, for example, preclude the receipt by the disabled individual of other government benefits.
Read more about Trusts for Disabled Beneficiaries.
Claims Against Your Estate
The obligation to a spouse or child is based on society's reasonable expectations of what a judicious person would do in the circumstances by reference to contemporary community standards. Because the moral claim will end up being interpreted by a judge, the issue of who has a moral claim and what the claim should be is subject to wide variation.
Often our clients are surprised to learn there are such provisions within the Wills Variation Act and they cannot get around the Act by giving a bequest of $1.00 or another token sum.
Read more in Let Thy Will Be Done, Not Undone!
If You Already Have a Will
Have you looked at your Will lately? Have your circumstances changed since your Will was made? Have they changed for your executor or your beneficiaries? It is always recommended that you review your Will every two to five years or any time something has changed substantially for yourself or your family. Even a move to a different province in Canada can be an important change, because many of the laws to do with estates are governed provincially, not federally.
So dust off that old Will, take a good look, and read more about Reviewing Your Will.
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