Wills and Estates Questions and Answers

What is probate?

Probate is the process in which your Will is administered according to your wishes. The Court appoints a Personal Representative to take action on your behalf, and allows them to access and distribute your assets and bequests in accordance with your Will.

What are the requirements for a Will?

The requirements of a valid Will are that it must be made in writing (either handwritten or typed), it must bear the signature of the Testator (the person making the Will) and must be apparent of the face of the document that the Testator intends, by signing, to give effect to the writing contained in the document as the Testator's Will ("This is the Last Will of..."). Additionally, the Testator is required to acknowledge his or her signature in the presence of 2 witnesses, who are both present at the same time and sign in the presence of the Testator.

What is an EPA?

The term 'EPA' stands for Enduring Power of Attorney; this is a document that comes in to effect when you are still living but have become incapacitated. The EPA allows the person you have appointed as your Attorney to act on your behalf with respect to financial decisions. This may include banking, dealing with real property and accessing a Safety Deposit Box, among other powers.

Can a Will be handwritten?

Yes! A holograph Will, which is a Will written entirely in the Testator's own handwriting does not need to be witnessed provided it is signed by the Testator.

How do you change a Will?

For a simple change, a document referred to as a Codicil can be drafted to effect a change. For multiple changes, it is recommended that a new Will be drafted.

What is a PD?

Similar to an EPA, a Personal Directive (PD) is a document that comes into effect upon your incapacity allowing your named Agent to act on your behalf. The difference is that the PD pertains to personal matters such as whom you may live and associate and health care directives, rather than financial matters.

What happens if you die without a Will?

If you die Intestate (without a Will), any assets that form your estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws of Intestacy. There are specific rules the Court will follow, including who has the right to apply as the Personal Representative and who is to receive a share of your estate. Without adequate estate planning, your assets will be distributed in accordance with legislation and not necessarily in the manner you had intended.

How do you change a Will?

For a simple change, a document referred to as a Codicil can be drafted to effect a change. For multiple changes, it is recommended that a new Will be drafted.

Can you be 'cut out' of a parents' Will?

Yep! It is completely up to the Testator who is to be included to receive a share of their estate. There are always extenuating circumstances in each familial situation so if you have questions or concerns, seek legal advice.

Contact our office today to discuss planning for the future and safeguarding what you’ve worked for during your lifetime.

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