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Wills and Estate Planning

Although there is no legal obligation to prepare a will, there are extremely good reasons for doing so, some of which follow:
       
  • Without a will, you cannot select the person who will look after your estate; this person will be appointed by the court.
  • Without a will, you cannot select the beneficiaries of your estate. The beneficiaries of your estate will be determined according to a provincial law, which may not be suitable to your situation. For instance, according to the current legislation, a common law spouse or same-sex partner are not considered to be a spouse, for the purposes of division of one's assets.
  • Without a will, assets and monies destined to any persons under 18 years of age, will be administered by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. This Office will be required to give such children their share outright when they reach 18 years of age, whether or not they are responsible enough to manage such funds.
There is more to preparing a will than simply filling out a form. A prudent lawyer will gain some familiarity of your personal and financial situation and guide you in making proper decisions regarding the transfer of your assets and the care of your loved ones in your will. There are a variety of issues to consider in preparing a comprehensive estate plan, which may include:
  • Selection of executor(s) and alternate executor(s)
  • Selection of guardian(s) for your minor children
  • Selection of beneficiaries of your estate, for specific items and the residue
  • Selection of alternate beneficiaries>
  • Age when minors are to gain control of their legacies
  • Disabilities and special needs of beneficiaries
  • Selection of beneficiaries of life insurance policies and RRSPs and RRIFs
  • Funeral arrangements
  • Safekeeping of your will
  • Compensation of executor(s)
  • Succession of any business interests
  • Income taxes and government fees
I charge a flat rate for the preparation of a standard will. There will be fluctuation from this flat rate in situations of more complex wills and estate planning.

Powers of Attorney

There are two types of power of attorney, namely the Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and the Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

The Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a document in which you can give the power to another person, to manage your financial affairs and to do anything, on your behalf, with respect to financial matters, except for making a will. It is recommended that one prepare such a document in order to facilitate the management of his or her affairs in the event that he or she becomes incapable. The granting of such power of attorney would not prevent you from continuing to act for yourself. It is important that you name someone that you trust, who will act in your interest.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a document which allows you to give to another person, the power to make personal and medical decisions on your behalf if you are mentally incapable of making such decisions yourself. For instance, you can direct that life support systems not be used if there is no reasonable prospect of recovery. Again, it is sound planning to have prepared such a document, in order to avoid unnecessary complications and costs for yourself and your loved ones, should you become incapable of making personal care decisions for yourself. Powers of attorney are not just important to elderly persons. In fact most adults in Ontario should seriously consider the importance of having such documents and being prepared in the event that unforseen circumstances occur.



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