The Best Laid Plans…
We all spend our lives accumulating things. Whether it’s money, art, antiques, cars, real estate or something truly unique, we want to be sure they have a good home once we’re gone.
Everyone wants to leave something for those they love. So when it comes time to write your Will, what is the best plan of action? You can do a very quick search on the internet and find hundreds of places where you can find the forms for a ‘do it yourself Will’. You could even walk into an office supply store and plunk some money down on the counter for one. Neither of these methods will point out the pitfalls and traps you could fall into, leaving your family a long and expensive mess to wade through.
Imagine you go the route of saving money and do it yourself. You and your family discuss the Will openly and decide, since your spouse is in failing health, the Will should be written with that in mind. Only you pass before your spouse, and the family is left with excruciatingly high court costs to settle the Will and the estate. This could wipe out a large part of the inheritance, all because you wanted to save some money and thought you could do it yourself. Unless you want the Province to become your new partner and primary beneficiary, wiping out years of hard work and savings, it’s best to look to another route.
What about using a lawyer who is experienced in estate planning?
There are two big reasons to use a lawyer to help you with your estate. One is to provide a knowledgeable hand to ensure that your finances are dealt with as you want. A properly drafted Will should minimize the possibility of a successful contest or challenge. The other reason is that the lawyer’s notes, which are made from interviews with you, are invaluable and should help counteract an actual challenge to your Will.
A lawyer will also help you understand and set up a Power of Attorney to manage your assets and your physical well being if you become unable to do so. While you will hopefully never need a Power of Attorney, it remains the best defence against unnecessary hardships placed on your loved ones.
Remember, your Will is an investment, not for yourself, but for those who are receiving what you wish to leave. Professional advice and organizational skills can help see that your estate is administered without substantial costs. With proper planning, there may not be a need to actually use your Will. But, if the use of your Will does materialize, then, with a good lawyer’s help, it should proceed without incident and with great efficiency.
Once you’ve decided that a lawyer is the route to travel, you need to find a good one. Look for one who sits down with you and discusses your desires with regard to the management and distribution of your property. The lawyer should also inform you of any issues that may happen and review all possible uncertainties in life, making certain that all potential difficulties are addressed. Remember, your real estate investments, whether your home you occupy or a far off place that is your escape, are important parts of your estate plan and a good lawyer should review these properties, and any other real estate you own, and make changes to them if necessary.
When you decide its time to talk to that good lawyer, Neal H. Roth is looking forward to hearing from you. With over 30 years experience in estate planning, he will guide you through all of the steps you need to take to protect you and your loved ones in Ontario.
As well if you are a CARP member, you can receive a 10% discount from standard fees.