Who Needs a Will? Everyone.
The idea that you don’t need a Will if you do not have substantial assets is wrong. Every person over the age of 18 needs a Will. A Will naming an executor that can apply for death benefits or file tax returns is very important for everyone, regardless of their worth on paper. With the Privacy of Information Act few organizations or banks will speak to you about the affairs of another, without authority to do so. This is a very frustrating and expensive problem to resolve and often results in families simply walking away from items such as credit card reward rebates, small balance bank accounts or a tuition rebate. The end result is that banks and the government are sitting on millions of dollars in unclaimed money.
Should your death occur unexpectedly, as a result of the negligence or a criminal act by another person, a wrongful death claim cannot be filed without someone having legal responsibility for your estate.
The cost to obtain a Certificate of Appointment to take care of these issues is substantial. Added expense to an already grieving family.
We hear from people all the time that everything they own is held jointly with another person and therefore a Will is not necessary. Very rarely is this true. Think about your own situation. Is your car in your name alone? Your credit cards? Your outstanding student loan? Dealing with any type of matters like these examples without the authority granted to a person by a Will can be daunting.
If you are young, it may be more important to have a Power of Attorney. Not that we are suggesting that both documents are not necessary, but with young healthy people accident injuries are more likely to befall you than death. We are living in a world where people simply going about their lives and minding their own business end up the victims of tragedy that sideline them for some time. Who would expect a bus accident in Humbolt, Saskatchewan or a van to strike pedestrians on Yonge Street sidewalk in Toronto. As well as the tragic loss of life there are also those injured that need assistance with recovering from injuries. This may mean being a decision maker dealing with emergency medical care or applying for disability benefits to pay your bills. If you have rent or a mortgage to pay following an injury don’t expect your landlord or bank to simply understand that your ability to pay has been compromised.
After you spend the time and the money arranging to have Powers of Attorney and a Will, please ensure your documents are stored in a safe place known to your attorney/executor. Your bank deposit box is not the right place as your box will be sealed by the bank once they learn of your death until a court Order is obtained. There is no central registry of Wills in Ontario so unless you tell your attorney/executor where your documents are they will need mount a time consuming and possibly expensive search.
If Brown Law prepares your Powers of Attorney and Will, your documents may remain in our safekeeping. A copy of your Will and additional Powers of Attorney are sent home with you, while original documents are stored in our safe. Your executor or attorney can collect your Will when required.
Although we do not anticipate retiring anytime in the foreseeable future, it is worthy to note that lawyers must transfer their stored Wills to another practicing lawyer and provide that information to the Law Society of Ontario so that executors may locate documents even after the retirement or death of a lawyer that prepared and is holding a Will.
If you are ready to start the conversation about preparing Powers of Attorney or a Last Will and Testament contact us to arrange a consultation. You can read further on this subject by reviewing our Will preparation checklist.