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Raising the questions that need to be answered before you draft a will

More than one client has come to us believing they knew everything necessary to draft a will or power of attorney. You may feel the same way, but the hard reality is that the applicable law may not be what you expect. In addition, most people are unaware or unprepared to consider some scenarios that could undermine the whole purpose of a will, which is to ensure that your intentions are followed. Make sure that doesn't happen to you by getting the expert legal advice of a Wills & Estates lawyer James Carr. He will ensure that your interests are protected by bringing up every question that needs to be answered. Here are just a few:

  • What happens to your will if you get married?
  • Do you need more than one will if you have property in two countries?
  • What happens to your will if you get divorced? What taxes are applicable when your estate is transferred to your children - and what can you do to avoid these taxes?
  • How can you protect your interests with a prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement
  • What can couples who are not married do to protect their interests?
  • What happens if I become incapacitated?

"There are so many issues that can come up, particularly if the estate includes many different kinds of assets," explains James Carr. "If you miss just one, the value of the estate can be drained away by taxes and fees and nobody wants that. It's also vital to think about setting up Powers of Attorney to protect your interests in the event that you become incapacitated."

What happens if I don't have a Will?

If you pass away without a Will, the division of your property is determined by the Wills and Succession Act (Alberta). A judge will name a personal representative, but this individual will have limited control and most decisions, including guardianship of children, will be determined by the provisions of the Wills and Succession Act.

For example, if your estate does not exceed $40,000, the entire amount goes to your spouse. The same applies if you have a spouse, but no children. If you have a spouse and one child, the first $40,000 goes to your spouse and balance is divided between your spouse and the child.

If you currently do not have a lawyer, contact James Carr to obtain further information about how the Wills and Succession Act may affect your personal situation if you die without a will.

Expert legal help with wills and estates

Protect your interests with a pre-nuptial contract drafted prior to marriage - Assuming you can get cooperation from your future spouse, the best way to protect your interests is by entering into a legally binding pre-nuptial agreement before you get married.

Review and update an existing will - Your will needs an update whenever there is a major change in your life, such as a change in your marital status or the death of a trustee. You may also need an update if there is a significant change in tax law that has an impact on issues such as capital gains. Even if there are no major changes in your life, it's worthwhile to have your Will reviewed every five years.

Set up guardianship of your children - For most parents, this will be the single most important reason to draft a will.

Photo of a Last Will and Testament, a service offered from Carr Quinn King Family Law Firm

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