No one really enjoys planning for the end. And to be fair, once you are gone, the administration of your estate is really... no longer your concern.
However, the administration of your estate can be simple & straightforward, or it can be riddled with hurdles and legal hoops that your loved ones need to jump through. Recently I have assisted clients get Certificates of Appointment of Estate Trustee with and without a Will, and without a doubt, the process is far simpler when there is a will. But did you know that there are two types of written wills?
There is a traditional will, often drafted by a lawyer but it could also be in the form of a "Will Kit". It must be in writing (currently Ontario does not recognize oral wills, video wills, or even text message wills, unlike other jurisdictions which have "substantial compliance" rules). It must be signed by the testator/testatrix. And, this is key - it must be witnessed by two witnesses (which is largely why a text message will is not valid in Ontario).
The other type of will is called a holograph will, and it is when the testator/testatrix drafts his or her own will entirely in his or her own handwriting. Although this form of will does not need to be witnessed, someone will have to swear a form called an Affidavit Attesting to the Signature and Handwriting of a Holograph Will or Codicil. It is important to know that if someone is a beneficiary under a holograph will, he or she should not attest to the handwriting of the holograph will, since that could disqualify the person from benefiting under the will (i.e., there is a clear conflict of interest, saying "Yes I recognize that handwriting" and "please give me my inheritance!"). So it is better to hunt down a long time friend or other family member to attest to the handwriting. Note: Financial institutions can do this, but they need to actually be familiar with the deceased's handwriting.
I mentioned "Will Kits" above, and now with the introduction of low-cost legal services performed by Walmart, clients are becoming increasingly price-sensitive regarding the cost of professional estate planning. When I meet clients, I review their finances (assets & liabilities, including any life insurance or other polices that they may have), we meet and canvass a multitude of options while I explain the pros & cons for each, and then after I've drafted their wills, we review the drafts, make any necessary revisions, and then meet to execute the documents. Furthermore, if clients have unique issues that need to be addressed, any additional time spent doing legal research is included in the flat fee. In the end, my clients receive a tailored estate plan supported with professional advice and the confidence in knowing that their affairs are well looked after.
If you would like to set up an appointment to discuss your estate plans, please contact my office.