Why a Legal Will is Important
There are many different aspects of the estate planning process from which you can benefit from consulting directly with an estate planning lawyer, including making sure you have a legal will in place.
Many individuals may be under the impression that they do not need a legal will, but this is a basic estate planning tool that can allow you to name what will happen to your assets if you were to suddenly pass away.
The basic purpose of a will is to allow you, the creator and you’re also referred to as the testator, to speak after death with regard to how your assets are distributed.
The instructions are in a written format so that others can completely understand your intentions when you are no longer around to articulate them.
After you pass away and leave your estate behind, your loved ones will be responsible for making decisions about what happens to your belongings.
If you leave these in a testamentary document such as a legal will, you can save those loved ones the frustration and time associated with legal hearings by clearly articulating your concerns.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Legal Will in Place
In the event that you pass away without a legal will, your assets are distributed under the rules of the Succession Law Reform Act of Ontario.
These set out a hierarchy for the distribution of your individual assets based on your family’s circumstances at your death.
For example, if you are married but have no children, the estate would pass completely to your spouse.
If you are married with children, and your estate is valued less than $200,000, your estate will also pass to your spouse. If your estate is worth $200,000 and you have one child, the amount above $200,000 is split in half between your spouse and the child.
If you have more than one child and are married and your estate is worth more than $200,000 the estate is divided into equal shares for your spouse and your children.
If you have children but are not married, your estate is divided equally among your children, and if you have no children and are not married, your estate will be divided equally between your parents.
Planning ahead can help minimize the frustration for your loved ones.