Whether you want to prepare simple husband and wife Wills and Powers of Attorney or more complicated estate planning arrangements, we can help. We probate estates. If that involves a dispute over the interpretation of a will or an intestacy, we can represent you.
Do you need a will?
If you do not have a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act. An Administrator will be appointed to look after your estate instead of an executor who you designate in your will. If the scheme of distribution set out in the Intestate Succession Act is acceptable, and if the people who are entitled to apply to be your administrator will do a good job, then perhaps you do not need a will. We think it is much safer to have a will than to leave these things to chance. Some of your assets may not be included in your estate because they pass automatically on your death to named beneficiaries. For example, RRSP plans usually ask you to appoint a beneficiary under your RRSP. When you die, that named beneficiary will get your RRSP instead of being distributed as part of your estate. If you own a house or a bank account in joint tenancy, it will pass to the other joint tenant when you die. This may not be much of an issue if everything is held with your spouse. However, it becomes a very big issue if you are in a second marriage. You may not want to leave everything to your new spouse, which could have the unfortunate effect of alienating your estate from the children from your first marriage. In second marriages, it is a given that you should get legal advice to ensure that your children from your first marriage do not get overlooked.
Many wills set up testamentary trusts for minor children. Sometimes, a testator will want to leave the income from their estate to their spouse until the spouse passes away, and then leave the principal to other beneficiaries. A trust is the perfect vehicle for that. Some people set up trusts to protect their assets. You do not want to set up a trust lightly, however, as there are administrative costs and headaches associated with it. We are prepared to advise you with respect to setting up a trust if your circumstances favor it.
Rates and Fees
It is always difficult to give precise quotes for legal services to be performed. Many items depend upon the complexity of the work and the time it takes to finish the job. However, we can give you some guidance. Please refer to our Fees. If you and your spouse want a simple will where you plan to leave your estate to each other, and failing that, to your children we will give you a fixed quote. If we are probating an estate or appointing an administrator, we will adhere to the schedule of fees set out in the Surrogate Rules. If your matter involves litigation, we will charge you an hourly rate. Estate litigation is expensive and time consuming. You do not want to embark upon it lightly.