Frequently Asked Questions About Wills and Estate Planning
When it comes to wills and estate planning, there are a ton of questions clients have but often find answers difficult to come by. The Kala Law Firm Professional Corporation wants to arm you with information that is accurate so that you can make informed decisions that will save you both, time and money. To ensure you have all the information you need, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about wills and estate planning.
1.Why do I need a Will?
A properly drafted Will is a necessity and making a Will is an important step to ensuring your family will be looked after in the event of your death. Without a Will, you have no control over who will look after your property, how your property will be distributed and who will be a guardian for your children. Without a Will, a court will appoint someone to look after your estate, and, if required, to be the guardian of your minor children. The individuals the court chooses to appoint to these roles may not be the same individuals you would have chosen if you had prepared a Will.
Without a Will, all of your property will be divided according to Ontario law under the Succession Law Reform Act. More often than not, the division under Ontario law results in an unexpected and unfair division of estate assets. In addition, the distribution of the estate may be severely delayed with higher administration costs.
Any share of your estate allocated to any minor children will be held until they turn 18 (unless a court application is brought to release some of these funds). When the minor child turns 18 the child is entitled to receive the entire inheritance without any restrictions. If the child does not handle the inheritance wisely, there is nothing anyone can do about it.
2. I am separated from my spouse. When should I change my Will?
If you are separated from your spouse, it is integral for you to make a new Will as soon as possible. If you do not have a Will, the law in Ontario stipulates your spouse will be entitled to inherit either all or a large portion of your estate (depending on the number children you may have, if any). If you have a valid Will, your existing Will remains in effect while you are separated unless you revoke it. It is common practice for married couples to normally leave everything to each other in their respective Wills. In the event, you die before your divorce is finalized, and you have not made a new Will since separating, your former spouse will get everything.
3. Why do I need a lawyer to prepare my Will?
A well drafted Will can save your estate significant money. A poorly drafted or poorly prepared Will often results in expensive legal fees, court costs, and delays when attempting to obtain probate of a Will. If a Will is vague, confusing or open to interpretation, it may be necessary to bring the Will before the court to have a judge interpret the terms of the Will. Without proper legal advice, family conflict, uncertainty, and confusion may arise which may result in very costly estate litigation.
4. What is involved in Estate Planning?
Each Estate Plan is specifically tailored to each individual's own unique circumstances. A well thought out Estate Plan may include any or all of the following:
- Income-splitting opportunities in Wills and Trusts.
- Multiple Wills to protect business assets, to reduce probate fees, and to administer property in other jurisdictions.
- Trusts to protect assets and income from creditors.
- Henson Trusts or other Discretionary trusts to ensure disabled loved ones will continue to receive the care and government benefits they need for their lifetimes.
- Powers of Attorney, and Trusts to help with planning for possible future incapacity.
5. What are Multiple Wills?
For some individuals, it is appropriate to have more than one Will. Multiple Wills are recommended where the estate will include business assets or property located in another country. It is important to ensure that one Will does not revoke or override the other Will.
In Ontario, it is becoming increasingly common for people to make Multiple Wills in order to have one Will deal with assets that will not require probate and another Will to deal with all other assets. Multiple Wills are often used for people who own shares in private companies or are partners in a business. In this situation, one Will will primarily deal with business assets, which do not need to be probated in order to be administered, and the other Will deals with everything else. In Multiple Will situations, the executor will only need to probate the Will which deals with the non-business assets. This will make it is possible for the Estate to avoid paying probate taxes on the private corporation shares which may be significant.
6. How much does it cost?
The legal fees for a Will and a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care vary depending on the complexity and details involved in your Estate Plan and Will. A flat rate price is most common for a straightforward or “simple” Will and Power of Attorney package. The approximate fees for all other Estate related services are based on the expected amount of time and work involved.
If you have any more questions about wills and estate planning, get in touch with the experts at Kala Law Firm Professional Corporation. We offer direct and personable legal services for real estate closings, family law, wills and estates, and corporate law, along with their consulting services in the Mississauga, Toronto, Oakville, Brampton, Milton areas and more. To learn more about how we can help you, please click here or contact us by clicking here.