The Importance of Having a Will
Wealth planning is important for those of you who are concerned about your family’s future and want to ensure that lack of planning will not result in unnecessary hardship in the event of an unforeseen event, such as disability or premature death.
Regardless of your particular set of priorities, the only way in which you can ensure that your wishes will be carried out is by structuring a plan, usually with the assistance of an advisor. Consideration should be given to financial, disability, estate, and insurance planning in order to achieve your objectives in the most optimal manner.
Some of you may feel that it is unnecessary for you to have a Will. However, if you do not have a Will, did you know that:
- Your common law spouse will not have any rights to your property?
- If you are married with children, your spouse will not be entitled to the entirety of your estate but rather a portion of your estate? In fact, your spouse will only be entitled up to the first $200,000 of the estate and the remainder will be divided between your spouse and children.
- The courts will choose a personal representative for you? This person may not be the person you would have chosen and this process will result in additional expenses.
- Your property becomes the property of the Crown if you do not have a surviving spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, nephew, niece or next of kin?
These are just a few reasons why Wills are an important estate planning tool. In fact, a properly drafted and executed Will can: allow you, not others, to choose the person to carry out the administration of your estate and minimize government interference; allow you, not the Province, to decide who will inherit your material possessions; allow you to minimize taxes and fees upon death; and allow you to set out time frames and conditions of all inheritances. In essence, a properly drafted and executed Will provides you with control over your assets and reducing stress and financial hardship on your loved ones.
Like any important legal document, you should not wait until unforeseen circumstances force you to prepare your Will in haste. It should be prepared and signed while you are in good health and can take the time to make the right decisions.
Preparing a Will
We recommend that your Will be prepared by your lawyer. Attempting to draft a Will yourself is a risk. Errors, omissions, inaccuracies or contradictions in self-made Wills can result in expensive and time-consuming litigation in addition to frustrating and even destroying family relationships.
Our legal fees and disbursements for a single standard will is single standard will is $399 + HST and $40 for disbursements and for two standard wills for couples it is $399 + HST and $40 for disbursements.
Please note that we will make hospital and home visits for an additional fee.
Unusual social or financial circumstances may result in additional fees, however this would be discussed at the outset.
Our services include:
- Reviewing your completed Will questionnaire;
- Contacting you to obtain relevant and clarifying information for your Will;
- Assessing the information provided and determining whether Will Planning is appropriate for you;
- Explaining the nature and effect of your Will;
- Drafting your Will based on your instructions;
- Discussing whether a holograph codicil is appropriate for the disposition of your personal items;
- Meeting with you to review your Will;
- Amending your Will based on your feedback and instructions, if applicable;
- Witnessing your signature and preparing Affidavits of Execution;
- Providing you with original copy of your Will;
- Maintaining a true copy of your Will at our office; and,
- Instructing you regarding storing and caring for your Will.
It is also important to note that Power of Attorneys can be prepared in conjunction with your Will at an additional cost.
Appointing an Executor (or estate trustee)
The executor is the person appointed in your will to carry out its terms and instructions. The executor can be, for example, a spouse, child over the age of majority, relative, friend, acquaintance, accountant, trust company, or a combination of these. Duties of your executor may include for example: locating and examining the will; making funeral arrangements, if necessary; contacting the beneficiaries; determining assets of the estate; and settlement of liabilities.
A trusted relative or family friend is the most appropriate choice. This person may be called upon to exercise considerable discretion when administering your estate. It is important to make sure the executor is willing to assume these duties, and is aware of your affairs during your lifetime.
In cases where individuals do not have wills, the executor is appointed by the courts.
If you are interested in preparing a Will, please complete our Will Questionnaire and return it to our office. You can submit the completed Questionnaire either by facsimile (613) 837-7664, by email or in person at one of our conveniently located offices.
Once we receive your completed questionnaire, it usually takes between two and three weeks to prepare drafts and set up appointments for signatures. We can however, accommodate emergencies and vacation. Your appointment will be with either Jacques Robert or Mark Armitage.
Following your meeting you will keep the original copy of your will. It will be important for you to keep your will in a safe place where it cannot be stolen, altered or destroyed. We retain a true original copy at our office.
Please contact us with any questions or to discuss whether will planning is appropriate for you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, however it is often more appropriate to do so through a holograph codicil.
Yes. We recommend that you read our article “Strategies to provide for your pet upon your death” which featured in our June 2011 newsletter.
Your will takes effect immediately upon death.
You should periodically review your Will to confirm whether it still reflects your intentions. If important changes in your personal life have transpired it may be necessary for you to make modifications to your Will. Making modifications to an existing will is done by way of a codicil however it is often more appropriate to have a new Will drafted altogether.