There's a saying that death and taxes are the only certainties in life. When it comes to the average Canadian, these are two things that you will have to consider together at some point in order to plan for the future.
Power of Attorney for Property - Power of Attorney for Personal Care
Before we get to that point however, there are two documents you may wish to execute that has nothing to do with what happens after passing away. The Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Care are two documents that will dictate who you appoint to make substitute decisions for you should you become incapacitated. By completing these documents while you are able-bodied, you will eliminate any potential disputes later on as to who gets to make critical decisions with respect to your medical care when you are unable to make those decisions yourself, as well as your finances if you're incapable of doing so. You can complete these with a lawyer for usually a relatively low-cost and you can ask any questions at that point.
Intestacy and the Importance of Wills
When it comes to wills, most people, especially young people, tend to put it off thinking that it will not be needed anytime soon. A person who dies without a will is called intestate. If you want to control how your assets or your estate gets divided up, you should create a will so that the family and friends you want to get each of your possessions or amounts of money will be properly accounted for in the event of your death. You may think that it's not a big deal since you have already passed away, so the burden is not yours anymore, but you will save your family or next-of-kin from a lot of grief if you can properly divide up your property the way you want while you're still alive so no one needs to guess your intentions. It is the best way to protect your family and their relationships, which may sour if an asset dispute arises.
Despite this, more than half of Canadians do not have a last will and testament. Creating a will is not difficult, but you should do it with the lawyer so that you don't miss out on any issues such as tax issues or issues relating to foreign properties or other more complex aspects of your estate.
Probate is an approval process which confirms the validity of your will and the appointment of your executor. The executor is somebody who will carry out the terms of your will and look after your assets after you pass away. When you are writing a will, you will name an executor. If you die without a will, the court may appoint an administrator for your estate.
What happens if your executor doesn't go through probate? Well imagine the situation where a bank is approached by an individual who is requesting the money of a deceased individual. The bank will not take the risk that the money is given to one individual and somebody else comes along later claiming that they are the beneficiary to that money. In other words, the bank will want legal protection from being sued. Not all assets require probate though.
A lawyer can also explain to you what happens with joint accounts and assets if one of the account holders pass away. Wills and estates law can become very complicated, depending on the nature of assets a person has as well as the number of potential beneficiaries. Proper planning can minimize probate taxes.
Ready to get started? Key Legal has Ontario Wills and Probate Lawyers ready to help you either through Zoom meetings or by telephone. You can either book an appointment or request a lawyer on-demand. Just use our booking page or our chat feature to get started!