The preparation of a will may seem like a daunting task, however, it is essential to ensure that your property is disposed of according to your wishes upon your death. If you pass away without a valid will the law states what is to happen to your estate.
There are many reasons to prepare a valid will:
A will ensures that your personal wishes are followed and provides assistance and direction to family members during an already emotional time.
Guardianship of a Minor
A will provides the opportunity to state your wishes concerning the guardianship of any minor children. The court must make the final decision on guardianship, but a statement as to your preference provides guidance and can be persuasive.
The preparation of a will can also include a discussion for estate planning. Our lawyers can answer questions and provide advice on strategies to maximize the benefits of your estate while avoiding some fees.
If you die without a will, someone will have to apply to court to become the administrator of the estate in order to disperse your assets. This process takes time and may require the individual to post a bond or surety. The appointment of an administrator can be avoided by appointing an executor in a valid will, saving time and money for everyone involved.
If a portion of your estate is being left to minor children or grandchildren, it must be held in trust. Without a will, the amount held in trust may only be accessed upon application to the court. However, in a will, powers may be given to a trustee without the involvement of the court to allow for payment of education or extracurricular activities.
A will can be very simple or extremely complex, depending on your needs and wishes. Most wills include the following information:
Your executor is the personal representative of your estate. It can be a difficult job and often it is best to appoint a relative or close friend. The executor handles the affairs of the estate, funeral arrangements, debt payments, distribution to beneficiaries, income taxes and all other matters.
Once the expenses and debts of the estate have been paid, some individuals choose to provide specific gifts to certain beneficiaries. These gifts or bequests can include certain sentimental items, specific amounts of money or donations to charities.
The rest and residue is what is left in the estate after the expenses have been paid and any specific gifts have been distributed. Often, the residue may include a house, a cottage, bank accounts, investments, vehicles and anything else you own at the time of your death. We suggest naming one or more residual beneficiaries who are going to receive the residue of the estate in percentages.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that appoints an individual to handle your affairs in the event you become mentally incapable of making your own decisions. Nothing prevents you from continuing to make your own decisions while you are still competent. A power of attorney is an extremely valuable document to have in place in case anything happens to you that affects your mental ability, such as a stroke, coma or dementia.
If you become mentally unable to make your own decisions and you do not have a valid power of attorney in place, your loved ones and those looking to care for you by paying bills and arranging accommodations, must make an application to court for a committeeship in order to handle your affairs. The committeeship process is costly and time-consuming, so it is always recommended that a power of attorney be put in place while you are planning your estate.
In your power of attorney you appoint the following:
Similar to an executor who handles your estate, your personal representative under the power of attorney is called your attorney. The person you appoint as your attorney is often your spouse or a close relative. Your attorney is under an obligation to act on your behalf in your best interests.
General or Specific
There are two types of powers of attorney; general and specific. The specific power of attorney limits the powers of your representative to a certain task or asset. For example, a specific power of attorney may be used to allow a representative to transact on a house deal if the owners have moved out of the country. The more common type of power of attorney is a general power of attorney, which allows the representative to make decisions regarding all of your affairs.
Health Care Directive (Living Will)
A health care directive, commonly called a living will, is a document that appoints an individual to make decisions with regard to your health care only, while you are alive but unable to express your decisions yourself.
This document is distinct from a power of attorney and deals only with health care decisions such as whether life-sustaining treatments, such as CPR or blood transfusion, should be continued or withdrawn. It is impossible to consider every health care decision that you could be faced with and the corresponding choice, so a health care directive allows you to appoint a proxy. Your proxy is your personal representative for health care decisions, similar to your attorney and executor. Often an individual’s executor, attorney and proxy will be the same person, most commonly a spouse or adult child.
After the will, power of attorney and health care directive have been signed, it is extremely important to have the original documents placed somewhere safe, such as a safety deposit box or fireproof safe. If the original documents are destroyed or lost, a photocopy has almost no value.
At Tacium Vincent & Associates we are one of the only firms to continue to provide FREE secure storage of your original documents.
Standard Legal Fees*
|Last Will and Testament||$225.00|
|Power of Attorney||$175.00|
|Health Care Directive||$75.00|
Senior Legal Fees*
|Last Will and Testament||$200.00|
|Power of Attorney||$150.00|
|Health Care Directive||$50.00|
*Note: Fees are quoted per person for testamentary documents of average complexity and do not include GST and PST.
We can also attend to a client’s home, nursing facility or hospital for an additional fee of $250.00.
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