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  • Writer's pictureErin Watson, J.D.

Key Considerations When Planning Your Will: Tips from an Ontario Estate Lawyer

Planning your estate is a crucial step to ensure the well-being of your loved ones after you're gone. In a world filled with uncertainty, estate planning has become more important than ever. While end-of-life planning can be a daunting topic, drafting a will is one of the most effective ways to ease the burden on your loved ones. When contemplating your will, there are several important factors to take into account: your family and friends, your financial situation, and the distribution of your assets and property after your passing.

Selecting Your Estate Trustee(s)

If you pass away without a will in Ontario, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of Ontario's Succession Law Reform Act, which may not align with your wishes.

Therefore, it's crucial to designate an Estate Trustee to administer your estate. This individual will carry out the instructions outlined in your will, including assessing the value of your estate, settling debts, and distributing assets. It's important to choose someone who can fulfill the terms of your will and possesses the necessary financial and managerial skills to handle your estate. Your Estate Trustee can be a family member, a close friend, or a professional trust company.

Selecting Your Estate Beneficiaries

There are various ways to distribute the assets of your estate, such as through specific gifts, trusts, or gifts from the residue of your estate. You can allocate a sum of money or specific property to your beneficiaries, including charitable organizations. For minor beneficiaries, consider establishing a testamentary trust. When distributing the residue of your estate to family, friends, and charities, you have the discretion to determine the allocation for each beneficiary. While testamentary freedom is a fundamental aspect of Canadian estates law, unequal distribution among beneficiaries may lead to tension or conflict.

Preparing For The Worst (Common Family Accident)

It's essential to prepare for worst-case scenarios, such as a common family accident. Consider naming alternative beneficiaries in the event that a family member predeceases you or passes away shortly after. Failing to designate alternative beneficiaries could result in your estate being distributed to distant relatives, as dictated by the Succession Law Reform Act.

It's important to note that the information provided here is not legal advice, nor does it cover all the factors to consider when planning your estate. Each individual's circumstances are unique, and it's advisable to seek legal guidance from a lawyer specializing in will drafting. A legal professional can offer personalized advice tailored to your specific situation.

For further information on this or any other estate-related matter, don't hesitate to reach out to our E is for Estate team. We're here to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning with confidence and peace of mind. CONTACT US HERE

Erin Watson, J.D. Founder of E is for Estate



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