As Benjamin Franklin famously observed, there is nothing certain but death and taxes. A good Estate plan takes into consideration not only these two certainties, but also the possibility of incapacity during your life time.
There are many misconceptions about what happens to a person’s estate if they have no Will. The Succession Law Reform Act sets out how your Estate will be distributed in the absence of a Will. Of particular notice is the different entitlement of a married spouse versus a common law spouse. If you want to provide for a different distribution than the statutory default, such as leaving a portion of your estate to a common law spouse, friends or charity, you need to have a Will.
Even if you have a Will, you may have certain statutory obligations to your survivors that may override your careful planning. These obligations may change over time with significant events, such as:
- Having children;
- Children becoming adults and independent
In order to ensure your wishes are carried out, you must understand what those obligations might be and provide for them in your Will. Such obligations can include:
- Child Support for:
- Minor Children
- Adult disabled or ill children; or
- Adult child in a program of education.
- Spousal Support for a married or common law spouse (or both!);
- Property division for married spouses;
- Equitable, or trust, interests in property held in your name; or
- contractual obligations, such as in a Marriage Contract, Cohabitation Agreement or Separation Agreement.
Planning for your Care during your Lifetime
It may be of even more importance for you to make provisions for your health care and property management during your life time, since you will be the beneficiary (or victim) of such decisions. This is done through a Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney for Property allows your appointed attorney to do anything you could do with your property, except for make a Will. If you are incapable of making such decisions and do not have a Power of Attorney, then the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee may step in to make decisions on your behalf, or someone can apply to the Court to be appointed. Neither alternative is desirable and can lead to serious abuses if someone is appointed who is more concerned about their access to your resources, rather than your care.
Although the Health Care Consent Act allows family members to make decisions regarding your health care during your incapacity, if you have specific instructions, or wish certain people to be responsible for these decisions, it is best to have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, sometimes called a Living Will.
Contact us to learn how you will be affected, and to otherwise have us assist you in planning your estate to comply with your wishes.
Brown Law Firm offers the following services related to Wills and Estates:
- Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care
- Estate Administration
Simple Will: $250*
Powers of Attorney: $100*
All for Singles: $400*
All for Couples: $800*
To learn more about our services related to Wills and Estates, please contact us!