Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a will?
A valid legal will ensures that upon your death, your estate is managed and distributed according to your wishes. A properly drafted will sets out your intentions clearly, and provides your family and loved ones with certainty about your estate assets. It gives you – the testator – control. Without a will, control of your assets rests with the government; your assets will be distributed in accordance with the governing legislation of Ontario, and may not reflect your wishes at all. Those whom you wish to benefit from your estate may be excluded, and worse, those whom you do not wish to benefit may receive some value from your estate. A valid will can address many important matters, such as guardianship of minor children, and care of dependant adults. Most importantly, have a valid will puts your affairs in order, and relieves your family and loved ones of an enormous burden at an already difficult time.
Why do I need a power of attorney for personal care?
A power of attorney for personal care allows you to identify a trusted individual to make personal care decisions on your behalf, should you become incapable of making those decisions yourself. A power of attorney for personal care gives you peace of mind, and can eliminate some of the stress from a medical or health care crisis.
Why do I need a power of attorney for property?
A power of attorney for property allows you to identify a trusted individual to manage property and financial matters on your behalf, should you become incapable of making those matters yourself, or should you be unavailable to manage those matters temporarily. Again, it provides convenience, and stress relief during a medical or health care crisis.
Whom should I choose as an executor, attorney for personal care, or attorney for property?
These are important decisions. You should consider choosing someone who is capable of managing a stressful situation, and who has good judgment. You should consider someone you trust completely, and whom you know will make decisions that reflect your own wishes and values. Family members are most often selected to take on these roles, but whomever you choose, be sure to discuss the role and duties with them in advance.
Do I need to have a lawyer prepare my will and powers of attorney?
No. Any individual can draw up a will or power of attorney. An experienced lawyer, however, will ensure a will is valid and executed in accordance with the laws of Ontario. He or she will make certain that instructions for the documents are given freely and by capable individuals, and that the documents capture an individual’s wishes precisely and in a manner that minimizes tax consequences. A lawyer will also ensure that the documents are drafted to avoid unexpected or undesirable results. An experienced lawyer will be sensitive to issues that may be overlooked by a layperson, such as guardianship and property issues for minors, complex tax avoidance strategies, estate implications on family law matters, and estate administration.
Are wills and powers of attorney expensive?
They don’t have to be. Always take the time to investigate the rates or fees a lawyer will charge for preparing your documents, and do some comparison-shopping. Generally speaking, drawing up a will or power of attorney for a more complex estate requires more time and expertise, and the fee will likely reflect that. Many lawyers, however, charge a flat-fee for an estate planning package, and you may see the best value in those rates.