A Great Christ­mas Pre­sent!

North Toronto Post - - ASK THE EXPERT -

Fall is here and Christ­mas will be right around the corner. If you still haven’t con­sid­ered mak­ing your Will and Pow­ers of At­tor­ney aim at giv­ing your­self a per­sonal Christ­mas pre­sent and get this done.

To re­fresh your mem­ory, a Will is your way to en­sure that your prop­erty is dis­trib­uted to the in­di­vid­u­als and char­i­ties you would like to ben­e­fit on your death. The Will comes into force the day you die. If you don’t have a Will in place when you die, your es­tate will be dis­trib­uted in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of the Suc­ces­sion Law Re­form Act, with the re­sult that your as­sets could go to peo­ple you may not in­tend to ben­e­fit, and peo­ple you want to leave to ben­e­fit your as­sets to may miss out. Don’t let that hap­pen.

To be valid, a Will must be in writ­ing and signed by your­self in the pres­ence of two wit­nesses. There must be three peo­ple at the table to see each other sign. Sounds straight for­ward, but these for­mal­i­ties must be fol­lowed, oth­er­wise the Will may not be valid. Your wit­nesses should not be per­sons also named in your Will to re­ceive a gift, nor should either wit­ness be the spouse of a per­son named to re­ceive a gift in your Will.

No time for the for­mal­i­ties of a proper Will? In a pinch, you may make a Holo­graph Will. This is a less for­mal doc­u­ment, en­tirely hand­writ­ten by you, signed and dated by you at the end of the doc­u­ment. If all these par­tic­u­lars are fol­lowed, it may be valid. It may be dan­ger­ous to do a Holo­graph Will if you don’t know what you are do­ing and cer­tainly if you have as­sets of any size. Not only do you have to fol­low the for­mal­i­ties high­lighted here, but you have to word the doc­u­ment cor­rectly so that ev­ery­one un­der­stands it. Fur­ther­more, if you type your Will out on the com­puter, then print, date and sign it, this Will may not be rec­og­nized as a valid Holo­graph will as it is not in your own hand­writ­ing. Then your es­tate is back at square one and your prop­erty will be dis­trib­uted in ac­cor­dance with the Suc­ces­sion Law Re­form Act.

Don’t for­get Pow­ers of At­tor­ney, a real must for both Prop­erty and Per­sonal Care. An ex­pe­ri­enced Wills and Es­tates lawyer can stream­line the pro­cess and en­sure you don’t trip in to any pit­falls.

Mary Anne Shaw, B.A., LL.B. Mary Anne Shaw is an es­tab­lished lawyer whose law prac­tice fo­cuses on Wills and Es­tates, Res­i­den­tial Real Es­tate and Fam­ily Law. Mary Anne Shaw is very ac­tive in the com­mu­nity, and has served on many boards and foun­da­tions...

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