Wills & Estates
One of the first Wills that I did after "hanging up my shingle" in 1980 was for a young woman in her early 20's who was driving to the west coast for her summer vacation. She didn't have very much to leave anyone, but she wanted everything to be in order before embarking on her adventure. Tragically, she was killed in a rockslide, while driving through the interior of British Columbia. Her shocked and grieving family were thankful not to have to guess at their lost one's intentions for the disbursement of her possessions.
No, it is not true that if you die without a Will the government takes everything. But, it is true that it is more complicated (and therefore more expensive) to have your assets distributed to your next of kin when you don't have a Will. And, if you die without a Will, those who will inherit is determined by how they were related to you. If you want to dictate who is to receive what you die possessed of, you do need to do a Will.
I don't work with a pre-printed questionnaire about what you have and who you may wish to leave what you have to. Completing a Will with me involves two visits to my office. During the first, you'll receive some advice on Estate planning and, if you are ready to, you'll provide me with some instructions as to what you would like to see happen when you die. This meeting can be followed up with further instructions by email or a phone call. I then prepare a draft for your review. You'll return for a second appointment to review any changes that you have requested and to sign the Will before two witnesses and myself. I think you'll find the process to be, as many others have commented, "quite painless".
A Will only takes effect when you die. Should you become incapacitated, either physically or mentally, the Will cannot provide any assistance to those wishing to help you. A Power of Attorney can.
There are two types of Powers of Attorney. The most common is a Power of Attorney over Property. This allows the person or persons you choose to sign your name on any document that you could sign. The Power of Attorney ensures that if you are unable to manage your affairs, they can be managed by someone you trust.
The second type of Power of Attorney is a Power of Attorney over Health Care. It is sometimes called a Living Will. It is designed to let those with carriage of your health care know to whom to speak if you cannot give instructions about your care. You may or may not feel you need a Living Will. But, what if you have a partner; he or she will naturally be the one that is consulted about your care. What if you and your partner are in an accident and your partner is killed, while you survive, but you are in a coma. Who would you want instructing the doctors? Trust a lawyer to bring up the worst-case scenario.
If you would like to make an appointment to discuss a Will and/or Powers of Attorney, call my family law clerk at 905-845-0767, extension 228.