A will is a formal document that sets out your intentions on how your assets are to be distributed after your death.
The will designates the person(s) or institution known as the ‘executor’ or ‘estate trustee’, who will administer your financial affairs after your death, specifies beneficiaries to whom the assets are to be distributed, and articulates when and how the distributions are to be made. A will can also include special provisions for your children, spendthrift or disabled beneficiaries, and can specify whether certain debts owed to an individual are to be repaid or forgiven.
Generally, a will can be updated either through the use of a codicil (a testamentary document that makes one or more changes to a will) or a new will. A will can be updated at any time as long as the person who is providing instructions still has capacity to do so.
It is important to note that wills must satisfy certain technical requirements. Noncompliance with these requirements means risking the will’s validity and possibly having your estate dealt with as an intestacy (an estate without a will). The court will have to appoint someone to administer and distribute your estate according to intestacy laws and this may mean that your assets may not be distributed to your beneficiaries as you intended.
Having a well-drafted will can minimize the cost and delays of administering your estate, decrease or post-pone taxes, and reduce complex and time-consuming financial issues that family and friends might otherwise have to deal with. At our office every will is prepared after an in-depth discussion with the client and will be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
There are two types of Power of Attorney documents in Ontario: A Power of Attorney for Personal Care and a Power of Attorney for Property. The two documents are very flexible in nature, but generally allow a person you trust to handle either your financial affairs and/or your health care needs in the event of your mental or physical incapacity.
If an individual did not execute Power of Attorney documents and an incapacity should occur, it is generally necessary to start a Court application for guardianship of the person or the person’s property. Powers of Attorney are an integral part of preparing for the unforeseen and should be discussed with a lawyer. The lawyers in our office can prepare an enduring Power of Attorney for you, which is the most effective way to ensure that your wishes will be followed in case of incapacity.