Will and Estate Plans

March 15, 2016

Many prospective clients wonder whether they need a will and power of attorney in their estate plan. They may not have a will for any number of reasons, including a lack of time and understanding of the benefits and importance of a will and power of attorney. In this article, we hope to debunk this myth and help encourage you to seek a professional to ensure your estate planning needs are met and your loved ones are protected.

It is not uncommon for families to feud for many years over the interpretation of a will, or a technical drafting error or omission. This can occur from a poorly drafted and unprofessional will or it could occur from having no will at all. For example, do you know what will happen to that beautiful piece of art on the wall that has been in your family for generations? Well, without a will, it may be sold and the proceeds will be divided in accordance with the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA). The benefits of a professionally executed will are many, but in this scenario it will help ensure your intentions are fulfilled. In the case of that artwork, a proper will can ensure that the artwork is left to a loved one that will take possession and ensure it is preserved in the family for many more generations.

Many individuals falsely believe that estate planning is simply for the wealthy. However, you have an estate regardless of how many possessions you own and therefore you will benefit from a professionally drafted will. In addition, the process of completing your will you may be given advice on the proper methods to structure your estate plan that both fit your individual needs and reduce the tax consequences.

Do you know what happens to your possessions if you were to die without a will? It is not uncommon for people to believe that the government will take care of your situation. The reality is, the SLRA will be invoked, and your possessions will be divided according to the instructions therein. The scenario will depend upon your unique family situation, but chances are it does not conform to your expectations.

For example, the SLRA currently does not recognize common law marriage, and therefore if you die without a will, your possessions will not be transferred to your common-law spouse. Rather, it will be transferred upon death to a child or children, if any, even if they are minors and require a guardian, trustee, and trust. Additionally, if you are married with children, your property will be transferred in the following way: the first $200,000 will be transferred to your spouse, and any remaining property will be divided between your spouse and your children. Does this sound complicated or undesirable? In most cases, it is. That is one reason why a proper estate plan will help your loved ones tremendously even after you pass away.

Therefore, a proper will ensures that your possessions are bequeathed to your loved ones in the way you intend. It will ensure that none of your loved ones suffer financially through an already difficult time and gives everyone the peace of mind they need.

If you’d like to talk about setting up a will or family trust feel free to contact J.P. McAvoy of ConductLaw at our Ottawa office.

ConductLaw is an Ottawa based business law firm with locations in Ottawa, Barrhaven and Kanata.  Feel free to call or write one of our professionals for all of your business and estate planning needs.

Our professionals are experienced business lawyers who can help you with your wills or implement tax structures that manage tax obligations, whether as a spousal trust, family trust, testamentary trust, or any other type of legal entity such as a holding corporation.

ConductLaw is an Ottawa based business law firm with three locations in the Ottawa area to serve clients.  Feel free to call or write one of our professionals at info@conductlaw.com or 613.440.4888 for all of your business and estate planning needs.