Having a valid will is one of the most important steps towards building a complete estate plan. Yet, according to a recent article on the CBC, more than half of all Canadians don’t have a will. Fortunately, November is Make a Will month, providing us with an excellent opportunity to remind our readers about the benefits of having a carefully thought-out and up-to-date will in place.
Lynne Vicars, president of the Ontario Bar Association, told CBC “We spend our whole lives building up assets and we should really protect them with a will that’s been properly drafted and reviewed by a lawyer,” adding “If you don’t have a will in place, your assets and the decisions about your estate will be made according to the rule of intestate. That might not be what you’ve intended.” Vicars hit the nail on the head. When you die without a will, there are laws that dictate what happens to your property. There’s a very good chance that your personal wishes don’t line up with what the rules of intestate require. Simply put, having a will is the only way to have a say in what happens to your assets when you pass away.
A will also provides an opportunity for you to establish where your children or other dependents will live if you die. If there’s someone who you feel would be a good person to look after your children, and you talk to them about taking on this responsibility, laying out this plan in your will would help avoid that they end up in the care of someone you’d prefer them not to live with. You can also use a will as an opportunity to establish a trust for your children’s education, or to leave them with some money once they reach adulthood. Without a will, this money might not reach your children, and if it does, it might get spent in ways contrary to your wishes.
Making a will is often a good opportunity to also ensure you have a power of attorney in place. A power of attorney allows you to leave someone you trust in charge of your personal or financial matters should you become unable to do so yourself. There are two types of power that a power of attorney can grant. The first is for personal care, while the second is for property. It goes without saying that there’s an incredible amount of responsibility placed on someone with power of attorney, which means it’s also important to ensure that you plan to trust your health and finances with someone you trust.
Contact Arbesman Hamilton LLP in Toronto to obtain effective legal guidance on both wills and powers of attorney for property or personal care. Our experienced estate lawyers can help you plan for all eventualities. We aim to ensure there is no ambiguity left behind when you pass away, leaving your loved ones with clear directions, minimizing the likelihood of litigation. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation today.