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Wills and estate planning

Do you need legal advice when making your will? Add to ...

A lawyer can provide advice and expertise in drafting a will that truly reflects your wishes.

While a lawyer's time and advice cost money, a lawyer can ensure that you've considered all aspects of your estate's distribution – and draft a will that reflects your wishes.

How a lawyer can help

When you are preparing your will, a lawyer can help you:

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  • understand what you need to do and why,
  • state your true wishes so they will be carried out the way you want them to be,
  • make sure your will follows the laws of your province,
  • reduce taxes and other costs your loved ones may face after your death,
  • make sure your estate can be quickly settled, and
  • choose a guardian to care for your children.

Your lawyer can also make notes on your mental capacity to confirm that you are mentally fit to make a will.

Tip: Hiring a lawyer to draft your will is money well spent. A lawyer can ensure you’ve considered all aspects of your estate.

Do-it-yourself will kits

Do-it-yourself will kits are attractive because of their low cost. Most of these kits are under $50, compared to legal fees of $300 to $1,000 or more to have a lawyer draft your will.

While some kits have been approved by experienced lawyers, and contain clear and comprehensive drafting instructions, they can’t replace years of legal training and experience. The money you save by using a kit will seem insignificant if your estate incurs thousands of dollars in legal fees to settle disputes or clarify your wishes.

Although lawyers can and do make drafting errors from time to time, they also have malpractice insurance to cover the cost of mistakes that may occur. This is important protection – and something your estate won’t have if you make a will yourself.

Three ways an improperly drafted will can cost your estate

  1. Your intended beneficiaries may not be the ones who inherit your assets.
  2. Even if your intended beneficiaries eventually get what you intended, the legal costs to your estate can be thousands of dollars – money your beneficiaries won’t receive.
  3. Your estate assets can be tied up for years in litigation before they are distributed to their eventual owners.

Three ways to find an estate lawyer

  1. A lawyer you know – Ask a lawyer you have used for other legal work if they handle wills. If they don’t, they can likely refer you to someone who does.
  2. A lawyer other people know – Have a friend or family member recommend a lawyer they were happy with for their will. Your insurance agent, accountant or financial adviser may be able to recommend a lawyer who they know and trust.
  3. Law Society of Upper Canada referral service – In Ontario, call the Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326. They will provide you with the name of a lawyer who does wills. The lawyer will provide a free consultation for up to 30 minutes.



 

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeInvestor

 

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