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Don Archi's Law Blog

To Will or Not To Will

I have been practicing law for 23 years and am often asked whether or not people should have a will. The answer is simple - YES!!! You worked hard for your money and you should be the one deciding what happens to it after you die.

Without a will, the law dictates who can settle your affairs and who receives your property. For example, without a will your spouse may not automatically inherit all of your estate; how much he or she gets depends on the size of your estate and the number of children you have. Without a will, money will not go to your favourite charity.  Without a will, any money inherited by children under the age of eighteen must be paid into court.  Without a will, you have no direct input into the naming of guardians for your minor children.

Although everyone should have a will, statistics show that less than 50% of all Canadians over the age of eighteen have wills. 80% of wills are prepared by a lawyer.  A large number of people are preparing their own wills.

"Do it yourself" kits are inexpensive and are available to assist you but the forms may not be properly completed without expert advice.  Having a poorly drafted will may, in some cases, be worse than having no will at all. The costs of going to court to have a judge decide what you intended when you prepared your own will negates the "savings" of doing your own will.  Most people spend more money on fire insurance in one year than they will spend on having a will prepared by a lawyer (and not many people make a new will each year). Having a lawyer prepare your will is inexpensive compared to the value of your estate. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your will was properly prepared – as they say in the commercial, this is priceless.

Maintain control over who inherits. Appoint persons that you know and trust to handle your estate once you are no longer here.  Take the necessary steps to avoid family disputes.

When you speak to your lawyer about your will, you need to be prepared for your meeting. In my next column, I will cover the major areas you will want to review with your lawyer.


Monday, January 17, 2011

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