Crafting a will is essential to estate planning, but it's important to be aware of common mistakes that jeopardize its effectiveness.
Here are the top five will mistakes to avoid in Ontario:
1. Not having a will
This is the most common will mistake, leading to severe problems for your loved ones after you pass away. If you don't have a will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of Ontario, which may not reflect your wishes.
Examples of what happens without a will in Ontario:
- If you are married and have children, your spouse will inherit your entire estate, even if you have close friends or other loved ones who you would like to inherit from you.
- If you are unmarried and have no children, your entire estate will go to your parents or siblings, even if you have close friends or other loved ones you would like to inherit from you.
- If you have minor children, the court will decide who will raise them.
- It can also be more expensive and time-consuming to administer an estate without a will.
2. Not updating your will regularly
Your will should be updated whenever there are significant changes in your life, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a loved one.
Example: If you get married after you make your will, your spouse will automatically inherit your entire estate, even if you didn't name them in your will. This could mean your children from a previous relationship would not inherit anything from you.
3. Making formal errors
Wills must be drafted in accordance with strict legal requirements. Any formal errors in your will could make it invalid.
Example: Your will must be signed by you and two witnesses who are over the age of 18. If your will is not signed correctly, it may not be enforceable.
4. Not naming a guardian for your minor children
If you have minor children, you must name a guardian in your will who will care for them after you die.
Example: If you don't name a guardian, the court will decide who will raise your children. This could lead to a situation where your children are placed in the care of someone you wouldn't want to care for them.
5. Not considering tax implications
There are several tax implications associated with wills. Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer is essential to ensure your will is structured to minimize beneficiary tax liability.
Example: There are special tax rules for gifts to charity. If you plan to leave a gift to charity in your will, your lawyer can help you structure the gift to maximize the tax benefits for your estate.
How to Avoid Common Will Mistakes:
The best way to avoid common will mistakes is to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer. An expert lawyer from Tabuchi Law can help you understand the law and draft a will tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
Here are some additional tips for avoiding common will mistakes:
- Make sure that your will is up-to-date. Review your will every few years to ensure that it reflects your wishes and that no changes in your life require you to update your will.
- Have your will signed and witnessed properly. Your will must be signed by you and two witnesses who are over the age of 18. The witnesses must also sign the will in your presence.
- Keep your will in a safe place. Tell someone you trust where you keep your will so that they can find it after you die.
A valid will is essential to ensure your wishes are respected after you die. By avoiding common will mistakes and working with an experienced estate planning lawyer from Tabuchi Law, you can create a will that is legally binding and reflects your wishes.