Wills & Estates
At Mason Bennett Johncox, Brandon McBride will guide you through your Estate Planning and Estate Administration needs:
Estate Planning Services
- Will Drafting
- Individual Wills
- Spousal Wills
- Multiple Wills
- Powers of Attorneys (Property and Personal Care)
- Trust Agreements
- Business Succession
Estate Administration Services
- Assisting Executors with the Administration of Estates
- Will Interpretation
- Advising Executors of their Duties
- Advertising for Creditors
- Arranging for the Transfer of Assets
- Preparing Releases
- Preparing Probate Applications (with or without a Will)
Why Should I have a Will and Powers of Attorney?
One of the most well-known legal documents is a Will, but there is often confusion of what a Will actually does. A Will is a legal document which sets out your wishes and directions with respect to your estate after your death. Without a Will, your estate is said to be "intestate" and will be distributed in accordance with Ontario legislation, which may or may not reflect your wishes. Intestacy will likely create higher costs, delays and squabbling among family members. Additionally, without a Will, the court will need to approve who will act as your executor, and who will look after your minor children, if applicable.
Another less known legal document is Powers of Attorney. This is a document in which you grant power of your assets or personal care to another person. Without Powers of Attorney, the people you would want to make decisions for you may not be able to do so.
People have a natural reluctance to create Wills and Powers of Attorney. That is understandable: thinking about your own death or mental incapacity is not pleasant. However, if you have not done that planning, you likely always have a nagging thought that you should get on it.
An intestacy creates all kinds of bureaucratic problems which your loved ones must deal with, making the grieving process far more stressful than necessary. The same result occurs when someone becomes mentally incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney. Without one, you will be placing a burden on your friends and family with added stress and obligations.
Another reason for creating a Power of Attorney is cost. It will cost you (or your estate) considerably more money to deal with an intestacy or incapacity in the absence of Powers of Attorney. Spend a little now to avoid having to spend a lot later!
What are Powers of Attorneys?
There are two types of Powers of Attorney:
A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a legal document in which a person gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions about their finances, assets and personal property, and is typically used if they become unable to make those decisions themselves. The person who is named as the attorney does not have to be a lawyer, and in most cases is either a spouse or close relative. The power of attorney is called ‘continuing’ because it can be used after the person who gave it is no longer mentally capable.
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document in which one person gives another person the authority to make personal care decisions on their behalf if they become mentally incapable to do so for themselves.
How often should I review my estate plan?
There is not a set time period you need to do this. Estate plan reviews should be event- or circumstance-based instead of time-based. Whenever something significant happens in your life (see non-exhaustive list below), that is the time to review your estate plan. The following are some examples of significant events that should trigger a review of your estate plan:
- You get married
- You get divorced or separated
- You become involved in a common law relationship
- You have a child or grandchildren
- You move to another province or country
- Your executor(s) or trustee(s) is/are in poor health or have passed away
- One or more of your beneficiaries passes away
- You have a falling out with one of your beneficiaries
- You have one or more people who become financially dependent on you
- You have or anticipate financial difficulties
- One or more of your beneficiaries gets married
- You obtain property in another province or country
If you have not reviewed your estate plan in the past 5 years, now is probably a good time to do so.