Drawing up a will determines who will look after your affairs after your death and who is to inherit your property. It also covers the type of medical treatment you wish to receive in the event of a serious illness or injury.
- Laws differ by province. Dying without a will means your assets will be assessed by the state and given to family members based on a pre-determined formula.
- A living will determines the personal medical care you will receive if you are unable to communicate. This can outline preferred medication and pain relieving drugs, resuscitation, and the use of a respirator. It can be updated as your attitude changes over time.
- A last will and testament is the document used to assess who will receive your assets after you die. A properly drafted will can reduce taxes and probate (costs associated to proving validity of will), which means more money for your family. It can also outline customized trusts, custody of your children, and donations to charity.
What Can an Estate Lawyer* Do for You?
- An estate lawyer will help you to understand the legal complexities of your estate.
- Protect you from errors resulting in lack of professional legal advice.
- Ensure compliance with government regulations.
- Prepare the appropriate papers.
- Provide peace of mind that all your affairs will be in order.
- Guarantee that your family will not be forced to make critical decisions on your behalf.
*Please note that a notary fills this role in the province of Quebec.
Important Differences in Quebec
- A notarial will is only valid in Quebec and is created by a notary, signed in the presence of one witness, and retained by the notary.
- Notarial wills do not require probate for validity.
- Consider who is to inherit your property, as well as what medical treatment you wish to receive, prior to meeting with an attorney.
- Ensure your attorney specializes in estate law.
- Consider who is to be the power of attorney for your estate and for your personal care.
- Once the will is complete, distribute copies to your doctor, lawyer, and especially the person who is to act on your behalf.