In short, yes and the sooner the better!

It is crucial to make decisions regarding protecting your assets, whether financial, personal (jewelry, car, artwork) or real property (condo or house), in case of unforeseen circumstances, including death and disability, to avoid possible conflict and minimize or prevent litigation. Below we share answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the wills & estate planning process in Ontario.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Will in Ontario?

While it is not legally required to prepare a will (also known as a Last Will and Testament), if you don’t have one, the laws in Ontario will decide how your estate is distributed. A will is a document that outlines how you want your estate (assets and liabilities) to be divided.

It’s important to get professional legal help when making your will. Lawyers can provide practical experience to help you keep your family and your Estate from being tied up in costly and acrimonious litigation.

If you have a complex estate a lawyer can give you important advice and advise on customized language beyond standard estate planning.

What happens if you don’t make a will?

If you don’t make a will, several things can happen:

  • If you have no next of kin, your entire estate goes to the Ontario government
  • Your estate may pay more than it needs to in taxes, without the proper planning in place
  • Your burial and funeral arrangements will be decided by a court appointed trustee
  • Your estate will be distributed in accordance with the law (not your personal wishes)
  • If your children are minors, their guardian will be chosen by the court (the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will manage the funds until they reach the age of majority, 18 in Ontario)
  • Your grandchildren won’t receive anything from your estate (only your spouse and children)
  • Common law partners won’t receive anything from your estate and may need to prove dependency

Ways to make a will:

  1. Write a holograph will in your own handwriting (not typed). You will outline that this is your last will and testament. This will include your full name, name of your trustee, and what your wishes are. You must sign the document at the end, and it does not require signatures.
  2. Purchase a will kit and ensure this is based on laws of Ontario.

*It is important to note that while the above two options are viable methods for creating a will, they often result in errors and costly litigation.

3.   Hire a lawyer to ensure your will is completed properly and all your wishes are fulfilled after you pass away.

What are the requirements for a will to be valid in Canada?

In order for a will to be valid in Canada the following must be present:

  • The will must be in a physical copy and signatures must be at the very end of the will
  • The will must be created by a person over the age of majority in the province (In Ontario that age is 18). You can be younger if you’re legally married or a member of the Canadian forces.
  • The will must be created by someone of sound mind
  • If the will is in a typed format, the creator must sign the will with two witnesses present

Does a will need to be notarized in Ontario?

Wills typically don’t need to be notarized, although it is recommended that one of the witnesses swear an affidavit of execution in front of a notary or commissioner.

Who can witness a will in Ontario?

A will in Ontario needs to be witnessed by two people over the age of 18. These individuals cannot be a beneficiary under the Will. They also cannot be married to or an adult interdependent partner of a person who is a beneficiary under the Will. Keep in mind that the executor of the will can be a witness as long as they aren’t a beneficiary of the will.

Why You Should Choose Doss Law

At Doss Law, we can help prepare documents and explore a full range of Estate planning options, including:

  • Will Drafting
  • Establishing Trusts (including Family Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Insurance Trusts)
  • Powers of attorney for personal care
  • Powers of attorneys for property
  • Estate Litigation
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship-Capacity Disputes
  • Guardianship Applications
  • Business Succession Planning

Even the most straightforward and seemingly simple Estate has numerous pitfalls that can entangle an executor or trustee and potentially lead to costly and complex litigation. As trusted estate lawyers in Toronto and the Durham Region, we are proud to help families and individuals navigate the wills and estate process with confidence and clarity. Our team will provide you with the most suitable estate plan customized to suit your unique circumstances.

 

Ready to start your Wills & Estate planning process today? Reach out to the Doss Law team today, and let us help you gain control over your assets, and safeguard the future of those you care about.