Your Last Will and Testament designates a person called the “Estate Trustee” (commonly called your Executor) to manage the assets and wealth you have accumulated during your lifetime and distribute them to your loved ones in accordance with your wishes when you pass away.Prior to giving instructions to your lawyer for your Will, you should consider the following issues:
Who will be my Estate Trustee and an alternate if he or she can’t act?
Who will inherit if I pass away?
Who will inherit if both my spouse and I pass away?
What if some or all of my children pass away?
At what age should my children receive their inheritance?
Who will be my children’s guardian?
There are other important administrative provisions which should be included in your Last Will and Testament which will ensure that your testamentary wishes are carried out in the manner you intend.
ESTATE PLANNING AND PROBATE FEES
Often you may be able to take advantage of estate planning techniques to avoid the burden of probate fees. Some common methods are to own real estate in joint tenancy and to name specific beneficiaries on life insurance policies and other investments. This latter procedure means that upon the provision of adequate proof of death, the named beneficiary becomes entitled to the benefit. If your estate does not become the owner of the asset, no probate fee is payable with respect to the same. Probate fees are calculated as follows:
For Estate values up to $50,000.00: No probate fee required.
For Estate values above $50,000.00: $15.00 per thousand. Survivorship Rights: Where you own your home as joint tenants with another person or your spouse, the “right of survivorship” applies. This means that upon the death of one joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant becomes the sole owner by operation of law. In other words, your interest in the property does not pass to your estate as it does in the case of tenants in common. The property automatically becomes vested in the other joint tenant upon the registration of documentation to provide adequate proof of death. This feature of “right of survivorship” is significant for estate planning purposes. If title to the property were only in your name, the property would become an estate asset upon your death. This means that its value would be included in your estate for probate purposes. By owning as joint tenants, you avoid having to pay probate fees on the value of the property.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Powers of Attorney are essential documents to ensure that your affairs can be managed in the event that you are incapacitated or unable to take care of matters yourself. In Ontario there are 3 types of Powers of Attorney:
A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property provides your appointed attorney with the legal authority to manage your financial affairs in the event that you are unable to make those decisions on your own.
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care provides your appointed attorney with the legal authority to make personal decisions on your behalf.
A non continuing Power of Attorney for Property provides your appointed attorney with the legal authority to manage your financial affairs only when you are unable, but not mentally incapable.
These documents are often included in our Will Packages and further information can be obtained by contacting our office.
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