Wills and estates Information
Why make a will?
A Will allows you to name a person or persons to manage your estate in the event of your death and provides instructions for the disposition and transfer of your property and assets to only those individuals named in the Will.
The best reason for making a will is to avoid what happens if you die without one. A will reduces the stress and financial difficulty on your family in the event of your death. By not having a will you give up the right to choose who will inherit your property, the amount each person will get, and when they will get it.
A benefit of having a will is that you can appoint an Estate Trustee who has the power to deal with your estate instantly after your death. Without a will, no one has that authority until the court appoints someone. Having to go to court can cause long delays, resulting in unnecessary hardship and expense for your family.
If you die without a will, your property would pass to your relatives through a statutory scheme under Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act. Having a will is particularly important if you are not married or in a common law relationship, or if you have very little family. Common law spouses do not have a statutory right to share in the deceased’s estate, and where there are no surviving relatives, and no will, the Government will inherit your property.
What is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
There may come a time when you become incapable of making decisions and are unable to care for yourself. If this happens, a Power of Attorney for Personal Care will be able to review your medical records and has the authority to hire and fire doctors, consent to surgery or any other medical treatment, and check you into or out of hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living centers.
Your Power of Attorney for Personal Care can be anyone who is at least 16 years of age and who can make decisions in your best interest, including a spouse, relative or friend.
What is a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property?
A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property allows the individual you name as your attorney for property to do anything with your money and property that you could yourself, except make a will, in the event that you are incapable of doing so. For example, your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property can pay your bills, sign checks, manage your bank account, buy or sell your property, etc. You can also tailor the powers to be very specific, such as naming someone to act as your agent in a real estate transaction to sign closing documents.
When deciding on who to name as your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, try to consider someone who is good with finances and record-keeping, who lives within a reasonable distance, and who will take your best interests into account. If you are concerned about someone mismanaging your assets, you can choose more than one person and require that they make decisions together. A Power of Attorney for Property is required to be at least 18 years old and must be capable of keeping accounts and of managing your property.
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