Now that you are a homeowner,
you should do some estate planning
The preparation or updating of a will should be done soon after you purchase
a home. Your new home is likely the largest accumulation of your assets
and liabilities that you will ever have and in order that the benefit
of the asset and the burden of the liabilities are dealt with according
to your wishes, a properly drafted will is a necessity.
will is a written document that describes how you want your assets disposed
of on your death. The document will set out your wishes and give one or
more people, called Trustees, the power to carry out those wishes.
The will can direct your Trustee to dispose of your property either directly
or by way of a trust. In the direct approach a specific gift is given
to a specific person or group of persons. An example of this would be
Mr. Smith's gift of $10,000.00 to Georgian College, or Mrs. Smith's gift
of her wedding ring to her daughter.
To dispose of your property by trust means that your assets are held by
your Trustee, to be dealt with over time in the way that you want. This
method is used to transfer assets to minors. The trustee can be instructed
to hold the assets and pay the minor an "allowance" until the
minor reaches a certain age, and then to transfer the assets.
Real Property can also be dealt with in this manner. For instance you
may want your children to have the right to live in your home, but if
they do not want to live there, the trustee can rent or sell the property.
The sale money can then be held in trust for whatever payout schedule
Many people currently have wills that were not drafted by a lawyer, or
are very old. These wills should be reviewed by your lawyer in order to
determine if they are valid and recognizable by law, and to determine
if your wishes are accurately and clearly described.
In the cases where there is no will, or the will is held to be invalid,
the law prescribes how your assets are to be dealt with on your death.
Since you have left no instructions on how to deal with your assets, the
law will assume your intentions. Generally the policy is to give the assets
to the closest relatives, but the gifts often do not accord with the specific
and trust gifts that you had in mind. The assumption made by the law may
be particularly "incorrect" in special circumstances such as
A will is a document that allows you to give the benefit of your life's
work to those that you feel deserve it. Without a will your intentions
will be guessed at, and litigation may follow if all the beneficiaries
are not in agreement with the choices. Remember that you can always change
your mind and have your will altered. If you have any questions concerning
your will, or if you do not have a will, I strongly recommend that you
see your lawyer and arrange to have one done for you. The peace of mind
that this action will give you is worth the effort.
Remember that every situation is different and if you have any concern
about your rights in a particular situation, you should consult your lawyer.
Bernie Jankowski practices real estate, corporate and estates law in Barrie,
Ontario. If you have questions about this article or real estate law in
general, write to That's The Law, c/o Toronto Sun, 333 King St. E., Toronto,
Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public
Alliance Blvd., Suite B1,
Barrie, Ontario, Canada,
Phone: (705) 735-6975
Facsimile: (705) 735-4977
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