We counsel families, individuals, family office advisors, private trust companies, charitable foundations, private equity fund partners and investment companies in transactions involving the preservation and governance of wealth and the transfer of assets.
If you own property of any kind, you need a “Last Will and Testament” (also known more simply as a “Will”) to set out your wishes with respect to how your property should be distributed when you pass away. A Will is a key to ensuring your wishes are carried out in the way that you originally intended.
What is the difference between a testamentary trust and a living trust?
A testamentary trust is a trust created by the grantor’s will after they pass away, whereas a living trust is one created by the grantor during their lifetime.
Does a Last Will and Testament need to be notarized?
A Last Will and Testament does not need to be notarized in order to be valid, but it must be signed by the person who created the will (testator or testatrix) as well as witnesses.
What is probate?
Probate is the judicial process by which a will is proved in a court of law and validated as a document that is the true last testament of a deceased individual.
What happens to real estate without a Will?
Without a Will, your estate may be in limbo upon your death until either the government or a person (not necessarily someone you would choose) is appointed as estate trustee to look after your assets. This may result in delays, further expenses, and/or other complications.
Furthermore, without a Will clearly stating who you want your beneficiaries to be and what they are entitled to, Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act sets out a default scheme for who the estate will be distributed to as well as the percentage/monetary allocations.
Probate Assets in Ontario
Assets subject to probate in Ontario include:
If you have young children and/or other dependants, a Will is also considered very important in setting out your wishes for those individuals (for example, choosing guardians for your children) instead of leaving that decision solely to the court’s or others’ discretion.
Although it is normal for people to delay in preparing a Will, you should consider preparing a Will for the above-noted reasons. Ultimately, you will want to make sure your loved ones are adequately provided for and protected so that they can live comfortably after you have passed away. Moreover, the fee (charged by our law office) will be very small in comparison to the additional costs that can be incurred in administering an estate where there is no Will, and the Estates process will likely be more difficult to resolve for your loved ones.
There are a variety of possible distribution schemes. For example, in a Joint Will signed by a husband and wife, they may designate that the deceased spouse will leave everything to the surviving spouse at the time of their death. However, if both spouses die at the same time in a common accident, they may then designate all assets are left to the children in equal shares and to be held in trust until they reach a certain age or become adults. Of course, this is merely an example of a possible distribution scheme, and you are free to choose the distribution scheme that works best for you.