Planning for the inevitable: What you need to know

willsDeath is something most people do not want to think about.

Whether a child, a senior or somewhere in between, the notion of death is one many do not want to delve into, much less plan for. However, planning for the inevitable is of great importance not just to you, but also to your family and friends.

The only way to guarantee that your final wishes are kept is through a will.

According to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum, a will is the “easiest and most effective way to tell others how you want your property and possessions… to be distributed.”

Wills are important whether you have $100 or $1 million in the bank, as you want control as to where it all goes after you die. Without a will, that money automatically goes to your nearest living relative. While many are more than happy to see their spouse, siblings, children and grandchildren receive some assistance from your estate following your passing, that is not true for everyone. Plus, without a will, there is no way to guarantee how much each person gets, or to guarantee that your granddaughter gets that prized heirloom that you promised would be hers upon your passing.

Or perhaps you also want part, or some cases all, of your estate to go to a charity or cause that you feel is worthwhile. There are no provisions for this unless it is put into your will.

And with some estates being complicated to the extent that your family needs to hire a lawyer and potentially go to court to settle how assets are distributed, it is only fair to save them the headache and the costs by setting everything out in stone in a will.

The will to get a will

So, you have made the decision to get yourself a will. First off, congratulations on taking this important step. It will save your family and friends a lot of time and money in the future.

One of the first things to consider when creating a will is naming an executor, or the person who will be in charge of your property and possessions following your death, and who will carry out your final wishes as laid out in the will.

According to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum, being an executor is no easy task, taking up plenty of time.

“If there is no one close to you who can act as your executor, you might be able to appoint a professional such as a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or the provincial or territorial public trustee,” the forum lays out in a report.

“If you are thinking about doing this, make sure that the person or organization is willing to take on the job before you name them in your will. Also check to see what their fees will be.”

While you do not necessary need legal advice, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum recommends having your will prepared by a lawyer, as it is a legal document, and you want to be sure it is executed in the way that you intend.

The search for the right lawyer can be a tricky one, but there are people out there to help you on your journey. The Law Society of Upper Canada, the group that regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario, has a directory that you can use to find the right lawyer in your area that can assist you with your needs.

RESOURCES

The Law Society of Upper Canada: If you are searching for the right lawyer close to home that can assist you in the creation of your will, look no further. The law society, which regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario, has a directory that you can use to find the lawyer best suited for your needs.

The directory is available online at lsuc.on.ca, or you can call 1-800-668-7380, ext. 3315 for more information.

The law society also offers a referral service to help connect you directly with a lawyer best suited for the job. This service is available for visiting lawsocietyreferralservice.ca, or sending an email to lsrs@lsuc.on.ca. The service also has a crisis line that you can call in an emergency at 1-855-947-5255. The referral process and the initial consultation of up to 30 minutes is free.

Government of Canada: The place where you can get your passport renewed and a new copy of your SIN card is also where you can get some helpful information on planning your will. Your Service Canada office provides information on wills, estates and more. If you are unable to get out to your local office, you can also access the information online at Canada.ca/seniors under the ‘Legal Matters’ heading.
You can also get information and consumer tips about funerals from the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling 1-800-328-6189.

Government of Ontario: For information specific to Ontario’s laws and regulations, look no further than the province’s top lawyer. If you are looking for details on specific facets of wills and estates, it is available through the Attorney General of Ontario. Just go online to attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca and search for ‘estate planning.’ You can also call toll free at 1-800-518-7901 or send an email to attorneygeneral@ontario.ca, and they will send you in the right direction.

For information on funerals, such as pre-arrangements and pre-paying, you can also check out Consumer Protection Ontario. They are available by calling 1-800-889-9768, and asking to speak with someone about funerals. You can also go online to Ontario.ca/page/consumer-protection-ontario.

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