When you leave this world, you leave behind the footprints of your life – and a trail of possessions ranging from the mundane like your toothbrush to more costly things like your home, car, and jewelry. While your body will be laid to rest within a few days, disposing of your worldly goods takes much longer and is much more complex unless you have a will.
Why You Need A Well-Crafted Will Prepared By An Attorney
The purpose of having a will is to give you a say in how your property is distributed. Though provinces have laws that determine this if there is no valid will, your preferences still mean nothing if the will is not well crafted.
In our modern world, where everyone with Internet access thinks they can become a do-it-yourself expert, some people try to write their own wills. Though you can print off the forms or buy a kit that contains all the forms, a homemade will may not be up to the task. Property distribution is complex and you need a lawyer to prepare a document to handle many situations that arise.
As compared to the wealthy and to celebrities, you may think that your finances are so simple that you need no will. When you want to assure that your loved ones receive your possessions, you also want to make sure it all goes smoothly and without unnecessary expense. A good will is the only way to insure this.
Why You Need An Estate Lawyer To Prepare Your Will
• A lawyer has knowledge based on education and experience. He is able to interpret your wishes and translate them into the proper legal language that will insure that your wishes will be carried out. If you want your money to be unevenly distributed among your children or you want a major sum to go to your cat, your heirs may challenge your will. A will prepared by a good lawyer is more likely to prevail.
• Typically, a professional will make sure you have a Power of Attorney to handle your affairs if you become unable to do so. Without this important legal document, the state may need to become involved.
• While even lawyers (or their assistants) can make mistakes, having a will prepared by a lawyer increases the likelihood that the forms are filled out correctly. A small typo, such as using a period instead of a comma, can change an inheritance from $500,000 to $500. Not filling out a blank or putting in the wrong name can leave funds in limbo or in the wrong hands. If you forget to list some assets, provincial laws of intestacy will govern who gets them.
• A will must follow certain procedures to be valid. For example, it must be signed and witnessed properly. In some areas, those who sign a will cannot inherit anything. The intent is to prevent fraud and assure that an unscrupulous nephew does not take advantage of his mentally unbalanced aunt. Even when there is no malicious intent, a desired heir could lose out. Having a lawyer handle the matter will have disinterested parties provide the needed signatures.
• Wills prepared by professionals include all your property and cover the gaps that DIY wills often miss. For example, DIY wills may not earmark money left after distributions, expenses, administrative costs, and estate taxes are paid. They may not reflect latest tax laws or set up distribution for heirs in way that will limit their tax liability. Estate lawyers should be able to set up the will to cover all contingencies.
• Estate planning should include a will. More than that, once you have a will set up with an attorney, it is important to update it if there are any changes. If you add a new provision to a will on the back of a napkin, you can compromise the whole thing.
Wills And Real Estate Decisions
As a property owner thinking of selling your home, you should consult with your attorney about the estate implications of your plans. When you are ready to discuss your real estate options, give me a call. As a Halifax real estate expert with experience dealing with Boomers and Seniors, I can help you sell your current property and even buy a new home.
Contact me today for a copy of my Personal and Financial Record Keeping Journal, a useful tool for organizing records all in one place for your family, your attorney, and your executor.
Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991, Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. Call Roy at 902-497-3031 or contact Roy here