Wills and Estates and Trusts
Death and/or incapacity are defining legal events in our lives. There are numerous property, tax and legal issues that arise on the occurrence of one of these events. Through the use of Wills, Powers of Attorney and Trusts, we can assist individuals in planning for these events. We can also assist in the administration of the estate that arises once one of these events occurs.
Estate planning in its simplest form involves three key elements:
- a Power of Attorney for Property that designates someone you trust to manage your property for you in the event that you are incapable of managing your own property due to sickness or injury;
- a Power of Attorney for Personal Care that designates someone you trust to make decisions in respect of your personal care (health, safety, shelter, clothing, nutrition) should you be unable to appreciate the impact of a decision or lack of a decision on your personal health;
- a Will which appoints someone to manage the distribution of your property and assets after your death and insure that your estate is distributed to your chosen beneficiaries.
In more complex situations, your estate planning may also involve the naming of guardians for minor children, dealing with business interests, providing for children with special needs, setting up family or inter vivos trusts, tax planning, family law issues such as obligations from a prior relationship or being in a second marriage, the exclusion of alienated children, a family disaster, religious beliefs, etc. While it is always tempting to chose the lowest cost alternative of a “do it yourself Will kit”, the determination of whether a basic Will and Powers of Attorney is right for you can be a complex process and the assistance of an experienced professional in reviewing your personal circumstances may reveal that your situation is not appropriately dealt with through a “basic” Will package.
We have been assisting individuals and couples in reviewing their estate planning needs for over 15 years and usually find that even within the scope of a basic Will kit there are issues that they have not thought of and that we are then able to provide them with suggestions on how to deal as part of their basic Will and Powers of Attorney. We would be pleased to assist you in your estate planning requirements.
In addition to providing estate planning advice, we can also be of assistance to anyone that has been named as an executor or attorney or will be acting as the administrator of an estate or the trustee of a trust. The fiduciary obligations of acting as an executor/attorney/administrator or the trustee of a trust are significant and not always well understood by the average person. Anyone acting in this type of capacity may face personal liability for any mistakes made during the performance of their duties and for this reason, may wish to obtain proper legal advice in respect of their obligations and responsibilities.
Lastly, there are times when an estate may become litigious. Beneficiaries may wish to challenge the validity of a Will or Power of Attorney or may dispute an interpretation of the document or the actions of the executor/attorney/administrator/trustee. We have acted as litigation counsel to both beneficiaries and executors/attorneys/administrators/trustees and would be pleased to assist you in reviewing any concerns you may have in respect to an estate or the administration of it.