No one really wants to contemplate their own death. Many people put off making an estate plan because they find the subject distasteful. They may think they don’t own enough assets to justify making a will or believe that seeing a lawyer for assistance just too time-consuming and expensive. The truth is that anyone, regardless of their level of wealth, can benefit from working with a wills and estates lawyer to get their affairs in order.

Completing Wills in Windsor

Your will is your opportunity to ensure that your estate goes to your family members, friends, and any charities you choose. If you die without a will, you give up your chance to decide how your estate is divided. Ontario law governs how the estate is distributed instead.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Property

Your power of attorney for personal care is someone appointed by you to make decisions about your health care, where you will live, your clothing, and meals. They can also make healthcare decisions if you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself.

The person you choose to act as your power of attorney should be someone who can be trusted to carry out your wishes. Many times, a spouse, a family member, or a close friend is chosen for this role.

Your continuing power of attorney for property is someone who is responsible for making decisions about your property and personal finances if you become medically incapacitated. They will perform tasks like paying bills, collecting money owed to you, and managing your investments.

Creation and Administration of Trusts

When done properly, an estate trust can help ensure that everything runs smoothly when you pass away. A testamentary trust forms part of your will and it can be used to protect your family’s inheritances. Some examples where you may consider using a testamentary trust include:

  • You wish to leave an inheritance to minor children and want it protected until they reach the age of majority.
  • You have a loved one with a disability who needs help to manage their inheritance.
  • You want to protect your children’s inheritance in the event your spouse remarries so that it doesn’t pass to their new spouse, their new spouse’s children, or any children from a second (or subsequent) marriage.
  • You may wish to preserve the family home for your (current) spouse’s use during their lifetime and then have it revert to your children from a previous marriage upon your spouse’s death.

Trusts can also be used to plan the timing and amount of funds a beneficiary will receive from their inheritance. You could decide to distribute half the amount at one age and the other half at another, for example.

Some trusts are set up while a person is alive. These inter vivos trusts are meant to protect assets, lower income tax payable, and minimize dispute among heirs. The terms in the trust can start during your lifetime and continue after your death. For example, this type of trust may be used to provide an income for you and your spouse or partner during your lifetimes. When both of you pass away, the assets remaining in the trust would go to the beneficiaries you choose, such as the children from your first marriage or a charity you designate.

Since each family and estate is different, it’s critical to get expert advice from an experienced wills and estates lawyer before setting up a trust. There are personal, legal, and tax implications to consider before finalizing your plans.

Contested Wills in Windsor

Anyone who believes they have a financial interest in an estate can file to challenge or contest a will in Ontario. A will may be challenged by someone who believes they should have been named in the will by a loved one or a friend but has not been. It can be quite difficult to prove one or more of the factors exist to back up the challenge:

  • The formal requirements for making a will were not met (no witness, no signature, no original copy of the will, etc.).
  • The testator (person making the will) lacked the ability to understand what they were doing.
  • The testator was forced or unduly influenced to make a will that doesn’t reflect their true intentions.

If you are considering contesting a will, you need advice from an experienced wills and estates lawyer who can review the details of your case and advise you whether you have grounds to for challenging a will.

Estate Administration in Windsor

Estate administration can be a complex legal process depending on the size of the estate. The executor or administrator of the estate must follow the legal requirements governing estate administration in Ontario under the Estates Administration Act.

Probate is the process where a deceased’s person’s will is verified by the Court. This process also verifies that the executors or trustees have the legal authority to administer the estate. Once the will goes through this process, the estate’s assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

The executors or trustees are required to pay probate fees; in Ontario these fees are called the estate administration tax. The amount of the tax is calculated based on the value of the estate being probated. A probate lawyer can advise you which assets should be included in the estate, which ones can be excluded, and how to calculate the amount owing.

Do You Need to Speak With an Experienced Ontario Wills and Estates Lawyer?

When results matter, you can count on CRB Law to give you effective representation you can trust. Lawyers Robert Reynolds, Erin Reynolds, and Michael Drake have the skills and experience necessary to handle your estate planning and estate administration needs.

Our law firm helps clients in Windsor, Tecumseh, LaSalle, Belle River, Kingsville, Leamington, Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton, and across Ontario with a wide range of issues related to wills and estates. If you need help, call us at (519) 254-6433 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation.