According to a survey released by the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LawPRO), over 50% of Canadian adults do not have a will. This is an alarming statistic given the costs, complications and potential disputes that can arise when passing away without one. The truth of the matter is, a small amount of planning now will not only spare your loved ones a great deal of stress in the future, it will also ensure that your loved ones are protected and provided for in accordance with your wishes.
When an individual passes away without a will, the law in Ontario considers that they have passed “intestate”, meaning the individual has left no instructions as to how they want their property (assets of the estate) to be divided and distributed. In these circumstances, the law in Ontario requires that a deceased’s estate is to be shared between a deceased’s surviving spouse and his or her children. This result may not align with an individual’s true wishes, and it may require the intervention of the public trustee’s office known as the Children’s Lawyer if your children are minors. This will complicate and add to the cost of the administration of your estate. It may entail various court attendances, the appointment of trustees who are not approved by you and the possibility of the requirement of having to post a bond.
Some people also think that they are too young to have a will, that the costs associated with having a will are too high or that they have not accumulated sufficient assets that would require or warrant a will. These assumptions are incorrect. Although there is no target age when a will should be written, estate planning is an important function that all young families should consider, especially those who have purchased a home or are starting a family. It will allow you to address your minds to the needs of your minor children by means of establishing certain testamentary trusts and the appointment of your personally selected guardians to care for your children.
The LawPRO survey also suggests that over 70% of Canadian adults do not have a power of attorney. This is very troubling as many people are not fully aware of how important a power of attorney is, and what the difference is between a power of attorney and a will. With more people today living longer and more active lives, there is a greater likelihood that a power of attorney may be required at some point in an individual’s life.
Having Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property ensures that you and your finances are taken care of in the event that you become severely ill or incapacitated. These documents will allow you to choose, in advance, how, when and who will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions independently.
Parente Borean LLP encourages our clients to attend to completing a Last Will and Testament and Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property, to ensure that their most basic estate planning is complete. Our team at Parente Borean LLP can provide you with the estate planning services that are unique to you and your family, and tailored to your individual wishes. We can also assist with estate administration in the unfortunate event of the passing of a loved one.