Wills

What is a will?

A will is a written document 1, properly signed, which:

  • specifies who is to administer the estate (the executor)
  • specifies what is to happen with the assets and liabilities of the estate
  • specifies certain other wishes such as guardianship of children and burial instructions
  • takes effect only upon the individual's passing.

The effect of the will is to provide a court approved authority (probate) to an individual(s) or a trust company to sign documentation on behalf of a deceased and to give direction how to deal with the estate.

We don't always sign for ourselves

In order to transfer assets or enter into contracts, different individuals may sign on behalf of a person. At birth, we don't have the legal power to enter into a contract. Normally parents or a guardian sign documents on our behalf until we are of legal age. At that point in time, we are entitled to sign for ourselves. If we become physically or mentally incapable, a power of attorney, (if one exists) or a person designated by law is entitled to sign on our behalf. Similarly, after our passing, someone is appointed to continue to sign on our behalf. The individual is identified as an executor if there is a will or to an administrator if there is not a will. Recently, the law of Ontario changed the official designation of executor and administrator to a trustee with or without a will; however, as most people are familiar with the term executor and administrator, we will use the old familiar terminology.

What is a living will?

A living will is a written document that is more similar to a power of attorney than a will. Its purpose is to give the written authority to another individual(s) to authorize certain medical related events. An example might be to authorize the removal of life sustaining mechanical support systems. The living will does not deal with assets and liabilities.

Why is a will a good idea?

Our laws provide for the possibility that individuals do not have a will; BUT the results determined by law dealing without a will (an intestacy) may not be the results that you would prefer. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a will to:

  • choose who will be your executor(s)
  • choose who is to receive the benefit of your estate
  • indicate who you would prefer to look after your minor children
  • specify other personal instructions that you may wish to make
  • specify an age for beneficiaries to receive their inheritance, that is over the age of majority (discussed later under beneficiaries.)

A will makes things procedurally easier and states your personal wishes.

What if I don't have a will?

Usually a spouse or relative would obtain a court authorized authority to deal with your estate as prescribed by the appropriate statute. In the event that there is not a spouse or relative or associate that is prepared to deal with the estate, a government appointed Public Trustee will deal with the estate. It may take longer to distribute the assets of the estate and be more costly to administer.

What does a will cover?

A well drafted will should cover all of your assets and liabilities. There is the ability to have the will apply to other provinces and other jurisdictions (a state or country). Outside of Canada care should be taken to ensure that a will principally designed to deal with an estate in one province will also operate effectively in the other jurisdiction. Within Canada, a will properly executed in one province will usually be acceptable for dealing with assets and liabilities in another province.

When does my will take effect?

Only at your death. A will can be written many years prior to your death; however, it is only effective at the time of your death. While alive, you may deal with your assets and liabilities and ignore the terms of your will. A will should be reviewed every five to ten years, to make appropriate revisions. A will can be revoked at any time by simply tearing up and disposing of the original will or you can sign a document that revokes a will. A new will always revokes a previous will so that the most recently dated will is the effective will.

Contact our office if you are looking for information about your wills.

1Business Dictionary

What our clients are saying...

  • We valued receiving a detailed report and explanation of our finances. When working with a financial planner, we expect to have our questions answered with adequate detail and to have a plan developed to help grow our money. Our expectations were clearly met and we would be happy to recommend Anthony to anyone looking for a Financial Plan.

  • We valued the fact that you sat down with us, heard what we wanted to say, asked for clarification and offered suggestions, and then came up with a detailed and well-reasoned plan in a short period of time and communicated that back to us so that we knew what we needed to do moving forward. Thanks!

    Our expectations for a financial planner are several fold: (1) Does the planner communicate well, in that they both listen but also offer suggestions and ideas in a clear easy-to-understand way, (2) Are they able to meet their client at the same energy/level and meet their specific needs? In our case we needed a tax minimization strategy within a short turn around time. (3) Did the planner actually do their job, in that were they able to provide ideas and suggestions that helped address the client's asks?

    We came to see you because we realised that we hadn't looked at how to minimize the taxes related to my Father’s estate planning and my mother’s future financial planning, and you were able to tell us things that we didn't know about, and offered us solutions that helped us with our future financial planning.

    You definitely met our expectations! In some ways, you actually exceeded our expectations. We were hoping that you could respond quickly, and you came up with a detailed and well-reasoned plan faster than we expected!

    Our only area of improvement we could think of was, given that the plan was very detailed, if we had an explicitly spelled out action plan with a timeline for completion.

    We are very happy and would definitely recommend you to our family and friends and in fact have already done so!

  • Anthony made the process very clear and explained each step along the way. He was very honest and straight forward. My expectation from a financial planner is that they are honest and transparent. Anthony definitely met my expectations and I would be happy to recommend him to my family and friends.

  • When working with a financial planner our expectations are to maximize our investments and have a solid plan for retirement. We now have a greater awareness of our current portfolio and options to best protect our estate. We were provided with good information to use in order to make better investment and estate planning decisions. We would gladly recommend Anthony to our family and friends.

  • We value the personal service and detailed explanations we receive from Anthony on an ongoing basis. We feel comfortable recommending Anthony to our family and friends as he is someone who we can trust and has our best interests in mind. He has been great at helping us work towards a comfortable and manageable retirement.

  • The financial planning process we went through was clearly outlined and explained to me. I wanted to have a better understanding of my financial position and to know whether I could retire early or not.

    I am happy to recommend Anthony to my family and friends.