Faced with the choice between a DIY will you can pull together for free and a professional will that will set you back a few hundred dollars, the first option can seem more tempting, and it’s better than no will at all. But don’t be so fast — we’ll outline five reasons why preparing a professional will is more beneficial in the long run.
1. Better for estate tax
Everyone should have a professional will review, but for homeowners, it’s a non-negotiable. In Ontario, you’ll face a 1.5% estate administration tax, but if your home is a joint property and you’re passing it on to the other joint owner (usually a spouse), this won’t apply.
Even if you can’t avoid this charge altogether, bear in mind that the tax must often be paid before beneficiaries receive their share from the will. The whole process goes a lot more smoothly if you’ve clearly outlined your wishes in a professional will.
2. Protect your common-law spouse
If you don’t have a common-law spouse, feel free to skip this one, but those who fall into this category have more to lose than most. It might not seem urgent to make a will if you and your partner manage your assets separately, but it’s essential if you want to pass on assets to your spouse.
Legally, common-law spouses have no claim to your assets — even a house they lived in — but a professional will can clarify that you’d like them to be your beneficiary.
3. Avoid confusion from a complex portfolio
When you’re familiar with your assets, you can forget how complex they appear to an outsider. For instance, you might have real estate, a pension, stock holdings, and multiple bank accounts. Who will receive what from each of them?
Even if you prepare your own will explaining how you want each asset to be distributed, an unclear and poorly prepared will can still result in problems. The more complicated the portfolio, the more important it is for a will to be professional.
4. Look after your children
Inheritance has long been used as a way to create inter-generational wealth that can be passed through a family continuously — don’t throw that away by failing to put together a proper will.
Besides, this isn’t just about the money. A professional will gives you the chance to outline your wishes for your children after you pass away (such as who they will live with). So, even if you have little or nothing to leave behind, it’s an important step.
5. Minimize family conflict
Even if everyone in your family has the best of intentions, it’s easy for tensions to arise when your loved ones have to make decisions on your behalf after you’ve passed away. Maybe they have different ideas about your wishes, and without a will, this can snowball out of control.
Complications can also arise if you become unable to make your own decisions while still alive and don’t give anyone the power to make them on your behalf. In a professional will, you can delegate a power of attorney for both property and personal care to avoid a distressing situation for your nearest and dearest.
Time to take action
Nobody likes to think about death, but preparing a professional will provides you with peace of mind and ensures you’ll never have to worry about what comes next again.
At the very least, hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought. Or, if you’ve decided to take action today, consider contacting Jeffrey Murray Law for more information about how we can help you to prepare a professional will.
DISCLAIMER: This website is for general information purposes only. Readers are cautioned to obtain legal advice as early as possible directly from a lawyer regarding the particular circumstances of their own situation. Do not rely on the information you find here as constituting legal advice as it is not possible to provide complete answers to any given question without a retainer that includes a detailed review of your situation.
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