When Should You Start Estate Planning?
Per Caring.com’s survey in 2020, nearly 30% of people believe that a will should be put in place before 35 years of age. People tend to spend more time planning outings and vacations than how their assets will be handled once they are gone. Estate planning may not be fun to think about but it is necessary. Without any type of planning in place, you have no choice how your belongings, assets, heirlooms, property or anything else gets distributed once you pass away. The biggest misconception about this type of planning is that it is only for the rich. Settling your affairs has an impact on your family and loved ones whether you have valuable art, a pricey home or a large stock portfolio.
You Need an Estate Planning Lawyer
There are many benefits when it comes to speaking with an estate planning attorney. A wills and estates lawyer Ottawa can explain all of the advantages that can save you and your family from the devastating consequences of not having an estate plan in place. This is especially true when it comes to your heirs. No one is promised a long life. That’s why you must do everything you can to protect your family, especially if you have young children by speaking with an estate planning lawyer.An estate planning lawyer Ottawa can direct you in planning an estate or will so you have a plan in place for the unthinkable. Ensure that your kids are cared for after you’re gone in a manner that you approve. You can name guardians for your children if something happens to both parents. This is specifically for children under the age of 18. If you do not have a will in place, the courts will decide what happens to your kids. Make sure you know who will be raising your loved ones after you are gone.
It’s Recommended All Families Have Estate Planning in Place
An estate planning lawyer is prepared to assist people who want to protect their beneficiaries. Planning isn’t just for people of high net worth. Many families that are middle-class need to have a plan in place just in case something happens to the head of the family. Perhaps you have done well in regards to purchasing real estate or in the stock market. You want to be able to pass assets along to your heirs without any legal hassle. Do you have a second home? An estate planning lawyer can help you decide who you want to leave your property and real estate to once you pass away. After the fact, you won’t have the control to make sure your property goes to your beneficiaries.
The main aspect of estate planning is designating your heirs. An estate planning lawyer Kanata can direct you concerning every aspect of preparing an estate plan and will. Otherwise, your property and assets could be tied up in probate for years, things will get ugly, the courts will decide who gets assets, and fees are racked up. Do you want the courts to decide which family member is more responsible when they don’t even know your family? They have no idea who should or shouldn’t have access to cash either. You also cannot depend on courts to rule in favor of a surviving spouse. Hire an estate planning lawyer to ensure your family does not have to deal with any of the negative effects.
Eliminate Family Mishaps
You’ve heard the horror stories of families fighting over assets and money after a family member passes. This happens a lot when families are at war with one another. Perhaps a sibling believes they deserve more than their other siblings. Maybe one of your surviving heirs believes they should be in charge of it all including finances and asset distributions. Estate planning puts a stop to this type of squabbling, which tends to get very ugly in court. Your estate planning lawyer is ready to assist you before any trouble can begin.
Frequently Asked Questions
I made my own hand-written will few years ago. I believe it’s valid and truly reflects my wishes, however my financial advisor told me I should get a proper will drafted by a Lawyer. Why should I do that?
Wills are legal documents that will dictate the distribution of assets after one’s passing and there are many reasons why wills should be prepared by a Lawyer specializing in this area of law.
Formal validity For wills to be valid and legally binding they have to be executed (signed) according to legal requirements. A Lawyer preparing your will would ensure that the document is executed properly and therefore legally valid and binding.
Comprehensiveness A Lawyer can make sure your will deals with all important matters, such as appointment of executor(s) and alternate executor(s), distribution of your assets, appointment of custodians and guardians for your children and setting up trusts for minor beneficiaries. Your Lawyer will also ensure your will gives executors enough powers to properly and efficiently administer your estate and follow your testamentary wishes.
Reflecting all your legal obligation
Under the law you are obliged to provide for your spouse and your dependents. Your Lawyer can advise you of your obligations to such persons.
Clarity of language
A properly drafted will should use language that is clear and precise in order to prevent any issues with interpreting your instructions contained in the document. Your Lawyer will make sure that proper language is being used to avoid any ambiguities and clearly reflect your intentions.
Preventing future challenges to your will
Having a Lawyer draft your will significantly reduces any risk of future legal challenge to its validity based on your legal capacity or any undue influence. When your legal capacity might be an issue, your Lawyer will gather and keep all the required evidence to prove you had the necessary legal capacity to make a will. He or she will also ensure there is no undue influence from any individuals, including family members that would affect any of the provisions of your will.
“I recently learned that my elderly Aunt is a victim of Fraud. The police have advised me that some victims of the fraud are considering a lawsuit and that someone may wish to speak to a Lawyer on my Aunt’s behalf. My Aunt suffers from dementia and I hold power of attorney. Can my Aunt participate in a lawsuit?"
Special rules apply to lawsuits involving people, like your aunt, who suffer from a mental illness and therefore lack capacity at law.
Generally, children under the age of 18 and people who suffer from mental illness, including those who suffer from dementia, must be represented by a litigation guardian within legal proceedings. There are also special rules which apply to how limitation periods apply to persons who lack capacity at law.
Litigation Guardians assume responsibility for litigation on behalf of a litigant who lacks capacity. Litigation Guardians serve an important role and are saddled with significant responsibilities. They assume the responsibilities of retaining and instructing Lawyers on behalf of the incapable litigant, and litigation guardians assume personal responsibility for any costs liability incurred as a result of a lawsuit.
However, the litigation guardian plays an essential role in ensuring access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Without people agreeing to stand as Litigation Guardian people who suffer losses could be left without recourse to the courts.
Generally a Lawyer works very closely with a litigation guardian to ensure that risks are properly understood. Lawyers also put in place measures to ensure the risk of personal exposure to the guardian is minimized.
If you are asked to stand as a litigation guardian you should consult with a Lawyer before deciding whether or not to stand.
We have been married for the last 25 years but don’t have any children. Do we need a will, or would everything just go to the surviving spouse anyway?
Yes, you do need a will. Whenever you don’t have any children, under the statutory distribution scheme for individuals that die without a will, your spouse would receive your entire estate. However, you should still have a will for at least two reasons:
- Appointing an executor of your estate; and
- Making instructions for the distribution of your estate in the event that you’re predeceased by your spouse.
Appointment of an executor of your estate.
The executor named in a will has the legal authority to take possession of all your assets, do your final income tax returns, and deal with banks and government institutions. If you don’t have a will, a court would have to appoint an executor of your estate to deal with any assets that were not jointly owned, as well as any registered investments that did not have a named beneficiary. The process of appointing an executor usually takes few months, so in addition to incurring unnecessary costs, there will be an extended delay during which your spouse will not have access to the assets in your estate. In my experience, some financial institutions will waive a probate requirement if your spouse is the named executor and the only beneficiary of your estate, which could provide your spouse with ready access to some assets shortly after your death.
Distribution of your estate if you survive your spouse.
By having a will in place, you will make sure that your estate is distributed the way you want it to be in the event that your spouse passes away shortly before you, or in the event that you are unable to make a will after your spouse’s death. Under the statutory distribution scheme, if you don’t have a spouse nor children, your estate would go to your parents. Alternatively, if your parents are deceased, your estate would go to your siblings. This may not be your wish. For example you might want to leave part of your estate to your spouse’s family, or you may wish to skip your parents and siblings and distribute the estate among your and your spouse’s nieces and nephews, or make gifts to a charity or charities. No matter which option you choose, having a will can provide the peace of mind of knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.