Why Make a Will?
Preparing a will is one of the most important tasks you will do in your lifetime. A will is essential in order to simplify matters following your death and allows you to plan a sensible, cost effective and satisfying transfer of wealth. It provides you with the opportunity to prepare for the future in a manner that protects you and your loved ones. A carefully planned will is also imperative if you are responsible for the care and support of an individual with special needs.
Why Make a Will Through a Lawyer?
The making of your will, in all likelihood, will result in the largest transaction that you will ever undertake in your lifetime. In view of the fact that your will contains the sum of your life’s transactions, it only seems logical to seek professional advice.
To make a sound will, you need to consider numerous factors, such as your assets and how you hold them, taxes that arise at death and how to postpone them, immediate cash to deal with death expenses/taxes, etc. It is imperative that someone help you identify all of the issues that you must address and provide you with options as to how you might best deal with these issues.
Everyone is unique with unique circumstances that generally cannot be fully and/or adequately addressed with a fill-in-the-blank will.
Dying Without a Will
A properly prepared will ensures that your property passes on your death to those whom you wish to benefit. Without a will, your property may pass to individuals you did not intend to benefit, while those you wanted to benefit, receive little or nothing.
When a person dies without a will, the law in Ontario provides a formula for dividing the property of the deceased person. This formula, with the exception of spouse, only provides for relatives of the deceased. To qualify as spouse under this law, there must be a legally recognized marriage. Furthermore, The division and distribution of the property of a person who dies without a will is slower and more expensive than that of a person who dies with a will.
Essentially, the distribution is such that the spouse receives the first $200,000 of the deceased’s property and anything in excess of $200,000 is split between the deceased’s spouse and children. If the deceased leaves a spouse and two or more children, the spouse is entitled to the first $200,000 and any amount over $200,000 is distributed one third to the spouse and two thirds equally between the children, however many there are. In circumstances where there is no spouse or children alive, the deceased’s property goes to his/her next of kin. If there is no next of kin, then the deceased person’s property becomes the property of the government of Ontario.
Your will should be reviewed at least every five years to ensure that both new laws and your changing circumstances are reflected in your will. A will should also be reviewed immediately in the event a named beneficiaries dies, marriage, divorce, birth of a child or grandchild, or if there is a significant change in the value of your estate. A will is revoked by marriage, except in certain limited circumstances.
Need advice about creating or updating your will?
A carefully prepared and properly executed will is among the most thoughtful gifts you can leave for your loved ones.
Speak to one of our Hamilton wills & estates lawyers today to get expert advice about your unique situation.