Wills and Estates... What about a Will Kit?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
Posted in: Personal Directives Wills Estate Planning Wills & Estates by Angela Walker, Partner

Michelle Rogers – January 2016

Why Will Kits Don’t Cut It

I draft Wills to give my clients and their families peace of mind.  Wills are very powerful and important documents, and should not be taken lightly.

These days, the DIY attitude is spilling over into legal work.  Will Kits are readily available at big box office supply stores and online.  Unfortunately, in many cases, by the time mistakes are discovered, it’s already too late.

Legal Requirements

The Wills Act sets out specific legal requirements to create a valid Will.  If the document does not meet specific requirements, such as the number of witnesses and the relationship they have with each other, the Will can be invalid.  Signing your Will with a lawyer who is familiar with the legal requirements will ensure you have a valid Will.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Will Kits are very basic, and may not conform to your family situation.  A Will Kit may not consider blended families, family members with special needs, former spouses or unborn children.   A lawyer will speak to you about your intended beneficiaries and create a “custom” product.  A lawyer will also ask the hard “what if” questions that may not have occurred to you.

Legal Advice and Tax Planning

Many pieces of legislation may affect your wishes.  Wills must be drafted carefully for clients in common law relationships, who are separated, or who want to divide their assets unequally between their children.  A lawyer is able to identify possible challenges to your Will and avoid them.  A lawyer is also able to help you plan your estate to minimize probate and other tax consequences.

Avoiding Influence

A lawyer will speak with you privately to understand your wishes and ensure that the Will instructs your Executor to carry them out.  Problems can arise when family members pick up a Will Kit to complete at home with their spouse or parent.

Health Care Decisions

It is just as important to provide directions for your healthcare as it is directions for the distribution of your estate – if not more!  A lawyer will discuss Personal Care Directives for health care decisions with clients as well as Wills.

Most clients I meet about Wills tell me this is something they’ve been “meaning to get around to” for a long time.   Many people acknowledge that a Will is important to have but can’t fit it into their busy lives.  A DIY Will is not the solution.  Don’t plumb your own sink; don’t write your own Will.

Wills take time, thought, careful planning and legal knowledge.  I’m always glad clients meet with me so we can discuss their wishes and the best way to carry them out.  Having your Will prepared by a lawyer is the best way to ensure this.

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