By Cathy Porter/Active Senior’s Digest
When making your plans for the hereafter, the single most important detail you can plan for is how, when and to whom your savings and belongings will be shared and divided.
Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act states that if someone does not leave a will, their belongings will be divided up according to the legislation.
There is nothing worse than to leave this world and have your expressed wishes and desires not be fully recognized.
In the event that you haven’t provided a will, the first people to receive your belongings will be your spouse and children, with the first $200,000 to the spouse and the remainder to your children.
If you have been divorced, your estate will go to your kids.
Ontario’s Ministry of Justice does not recognize common-law spouses. If you are common-law married and have children together, then your successors will be your children.
If you have neither married nor had any children, then your blood relatives would be the ones to inherit your property. Those blood relatives would start with your parents and then be followed by your siblings, and then those sibling’s children and so on. The chain would continue until the property has been divided through the blood-lines, even if the law has to go as far as searching for half-blood. The legislation treats legally adopted children the same as if they had been born into the family.
When it comes to writing a will, there are several paths you may follow. First is a handwritten and signed will, which is recognized and considered binding by Ontario courts. In fact, you don’t even have to use any particular wording, according to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
You may even consider an off-the-Internet version, known as a “fill-in-the-blanks kit.” However, if that is the case, you should still have a lawyer notarize and sign off on this version. A kit is considered the most risky because if there are any errors, then the document can be considered invalid if the matter is taken to court. If that were to happen, the separation of your items will once again fall to the Ministry of Justice.
According to the Law Society of Upper Canada, the most highly recommended method is still considered to be to have your will prepared by a lawyer. This can cost as little as $600 and run up to approximately $2,500, depending on the lawyer’s rates and the complexity of the will itself.
If you wish to hire a lawyer for just this method, you can call or look up online the Law Society Referral Service. The Law Society Referral Service will give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal within your area who can provide you with a 30-minute free consultation to set you on the right path to creating your will.
At the end of the day, you must write a will. Otherwise, you leave a burden on those you love and things also may turn out far different than you wish them to.
If you can’t afford legal assistance, then at least write something yourself, sign it and leave at least two copies: one with someone you trust and one somewhere that is safe, such as a safety deposit box or a home safe.