What does a Wills & Estates Lawyer do?
At our firm, we take a personalized approach to Estate planning. One size does not fit all. Signing a last will and testament may be one of the most important documents you have ever signed and should be treated as such.
Our office works with you to not only advise you, but to take the time to explain the process involved and the reasons behind all aspects of estate planning. This includes appointment of those that you choose are best suited to manage your affairs after you have passed as well as who will look after your children.
Along with wills, we also help with the preparation of power of attorney documents which allow a trusted party to act on your behalf with respect to health care decisions as well as those involving property.
Do I really need a Will?
The challenge with putting pen to paper and signing a will does not only have to do with facing the question of your own mortality, but also to do with understanding why this task is important to begin with.
Here are some reasons:
- without a will, if you leave a spouse and children behind, your spouse may be left having to share the estate with the children. In Ontario, the spouse is entitled to up to $ 200,000 of the estate off the top. The remainder has to be split between the spouse and the children. This is hardly an intended consequence in most situations.
- you can name someone as a Guardian for your minor children in a will. If you pass away without a will, the remaining family members will be left wondering who you would have liked to take on the enormous responsibility. Do not leave your children in such a position.
- if you are unmarried but living with your common law partner, dying without a will can leave your partner without rights to your property. The law is different for married spouses and common law partners. A will is critical in such a situation.
- not having a will also means that a state appointed individual will be chosen as your personal representative to handle your estate.
- in some cases, probate fee planning can be an important element of your estate plan when preparing a will.
These are just some of the reasons why you may consider having a will prepared.
The other element of your planning involves preparation of power of attorney documents. If an individual suffers some form of mental incapacity (due to accident, stroke, dementia etc.) it is paramount to have had an attorney appointed on your behalf to make important decisions in relation to your assets and personal care. Without this, your loved ones may be forced to take the matter to court to have a Judge approve an order for Guardianship – a lengthy and involved process. It also means that until this order is approved, they cannot handle your assets or make decisions for you.
To get help or inquire further, contact our office for Estate Planning assistance.