Wills can be tricky. For example, if you are leaving something to someone in your will, that person can't witness when you sign. Even pulling out a staple can lead to questions about your will.
Dealing with wills and estate plans requires a special understanding of law, taxes, and money matters. Here's a quick look at the reasons you may want to get a lawyer, and the dangers of not getting legal advice.
Why do I need a lawyer for my will?
When you write your will, a lawyer helps you:
- 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
- Choose someone to care for any children you may leave behind (called a guardian).
A lawyer who deals with wills knows how to make your wishes clear so they will be carried out the way you wanted them to be. This becomes even more important if your estate is complex, or if you have concerns that someone will try to fight your will.
Example: What if you decide you don't want to leave money to a person who is expecting to get some? There are right ways and wrong ways to do this. If you make mistakes, the person you cut out can fight your will by going to court. Then your loved ones will have to deal with a dispute after your death.
What are the dangers of not using a lawyer?
There are many ways that you might make your will invalid without meaning to. Mistakes can be costly, and can start family disputes. Those you care about may not get what you wanted them to have.
Remember: Most people need a lawyer to help with their wills
Even if you choose to write out your own will, it's still a good idea to get some professional legal advice. It's the best way to ensure your final wishes will be carried out the way you intended.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.