Wills, Estates and Power of Attorney
Every adult over the age of 18 should have a Will. To make a Will in Ontario, you must have legal capacity to do so. This means that you understand the nature and extent of your assets, and you are making a Will freely and voluntarily, without undue influence or duress of anyone, including family members. A wills and estates lawyer at M. G. Michaels & Associates in Whitby, Ontario, can assist to determine these and document them in your conversations.
Here are the components of a Will that you will need to think about before meeting with a wills and estates lawyer:
A Will must identify the person making it, so instruct your wills and estates lawyer to use the name on your birth certificate and any abbreviations or nicknames in the Will, too.
Select an executor, the person who will have the responsibility of looking after your estate after your death. You may need to name a primary executor, and a back-up executor. Have a conversation with your executor, to get them to agree to carry out your Will after your death.
Select a guardian, to look after children under the age of 18. In effect, this gives the guardian legal custody of your children. Custody means the right to make education, religion, and health decisions for your children.
Your executor will need to settle debts, claims and taxes owed first, before making distributions to beneficiaries named in the Will.
Make lists to distribute personal items, such as heirlooms, jewelry, art and so on [called legacies], to persons named in your Will.
A residue clause that tells the executor what to do with the residue of your estate, after your debts have been settled, taxes paid, and legacies have been distributed.
A family law clause can protect your married, adult child’s inheritance in the event of a marriage breakdown after your death.
To be valid, a Will must be signed by at least two witnesses. A beneficiary of a Will cannot be a witness. The spouse of a beneficiary cannot be a witness of a Will, either.
INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW…
- Writing a Will revokes any previous Wills you had prepared.
- Marriage automatically revokes a Will you had prepared in Ontario. A married spouse has automatic rights of inheritance. Read our Family Law section.
- Common-law partners do not automatically inherit any property under Ontario Law, as married spouses do. If you want your common-law partner to inherit your property, you need to specify this in your Will. Read our Common Law Separation section.