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Having a valid will and other estate planning documents can save a great deal of time and money. It also provides you with an avenue to decide what you want for your estate, instead of having the government decide for you. A clearly drafted will reduces the likelihood of litigation upon your death, and will better ensure your wishes are respected. Standard forms are available for purchase from some stores and on-line sources. Unfortunately, such forms cannot consider and address your specific needs. An incorrectly prepared will could be found to be entirely invalid, as though you don’t have a will at all. A poorly drafted will is also a source for estate litigation when there is conflict about its meaning or your intent.
Your Power of Attorney gives someone you trust the ability to manage your finances when you can’t, or when you just want someone else to have that legal authority. A Power of Attorney can be written to take effect immediately or later, and can have restrictions on how the Attorney can act.
Your Personal Directive can give someone else the authority to make medical, health, and other related decisions on your behalf.
When a person dies, there are laws that dictate what an executor can and must do to properly manage an estate. If a grant of probate or administration is needed, numerous forms must be completed and interested parties advised. Documents must be submitted to the courts and an accounting must be done. An executor has great responsibility and can be held accountable for errors caused by negligence or acts done in bad faith. Sometimes, conflict arises as to the validity of a will or intent of the testator.
Sometimes conflict arises because beneficiaries disagree on how a will should be interpreted, or because someone believes they have been treated unfairly. We can help you prepare estate planning documents that reflect your wishes, and are legally enforceable. If conflict arises, we can assist with resolving the conflict via the courts.
Things to Consider …
There are a number of factors to consider when doing your estate planning:
- Whether you are gifting specific items
- Whether debts owed by beneficiaries are forgiven
- Whether there is property in other jurisdictions (provinces or countries)
- Whether your gifts will be equal or unequal
- Whether your will and that of your spouse should be “mirrored”
How we can Help
It is important to know how the law will interpret the provisions of your will:
- Helping to ensure statutory and case law will support your preferences
- Helping to avoid ambiguities that could be grounds for estate litigation
- Helping you to consider application of the law to a spouse, ex-spouse, and dependents
- Helping to advise regarding areas that may have tax implications
- Helping to ensure your estate planning documents are legally enforceable