by Kelsey Morrison, B.A., J.D.
Have you ever been standing in line at the Registry office waiting to renew your driver’s licence or vehicle registration, and found yourself glancing over at the rack of do-it-yourself legal kits?
Then you think to yourself, “Self, you should really have a will done up.”
Then you start to question why you would spend potentially hundreds of dollars on a lawyer when you could simply buy one of these kits for $34.99. Good question. We’re so glad you asked.
There are several advantages to having a lawyer draft your will. We’ll go into a few of them here.
Rules of Execution
The Courts are able to validate wills which have not strictly adhered to the Wills and Succession Act, but do you really want your beneficiaries to incur the costs of that application? Having a lawyer draft and witness the signing of your will greatly reduce the chances that its validity will be challenged after you pass.
Witnessing the Execution of a Will
When you attend at your lawyer’s office for the drafting and signing of your will, he or she will take detailed notes regarding not only your wishes and intentions, but also your capacity and understanding of the process or if there has been any undue influence. Having your lawyer’s notes, or to have him or her appear as a witness in Court, will protect your estate and the interests of your beneficiaries in the event a challenge is made in the future.
Clarity of Intent
Your will should leave no question to your executor as to what your intentions are. Lawyers have the skills and knowledge necessary to draft a will that is clear as to your wishes. Also, the wording used by most lawyers has been through judicial interpretation, which means it has been interpreted by a judge to clear up any vagueness as to the meaning.
Disputes amongst beneficiaries of an estate often arise as a result of failing to consider how the terms of distribution will be affected by events that may happen down the road – birth, marriage, divorce, death, loss of assets and the fluctuations in value of an estate are all things that can have a significant impact if not taken into consideration when a will is drafted.
Obligations to Dependents
A lawyer will be able to assist you to ensure you have properly provided for your dependents by structuring your estate in order to minimize the risk or impact of a maintenance or support claim.
Marriage, Divorce and Blended Families
If any of the following apply to you, then you need actual legal advice and assistance with the planning of your estate: If you have a blended family, or children from different mothers or fathers, or a child with a disability who may require extra care during his or her lifetime, or a business, or joint property held with an adult child, or for numerous other reasons.
Legal and Financial Assets
How to properly address jointly owned property, tax deferred investments and insurance policies are legal principles that a lawyer has the specific skills and knowledge to address in the drafting of your will. These things and the consequences of not properly addressing them are often not fully understood or explained in a do-it-yourself kit.
As you can see, the benefits of hiring a lawyer to draft your will far outweigh the savings of purchasing a do-it-yourself kit. Do your future beneficiaries a favour and have these important documents prepared properly by an expert.
If you have specific questions about wills, enduring powers of attorney or personal directives, please contact us and we’d be more than happy to sit down with you.
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