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Wills & Estates
A Will is a written declaration by which the person making it (the "Testator") provides for the distribution or administration of his or her property after death.
Without a Will the Testator's property is distributed according to legal rules of succession. Often these legal rules don't correspond to the Testator's wishes. A Will ensures that property passes to those who the Testator actually intends to benefit.
With a Will the person(s) managing the estate is/are chosen by the Testator. Without a Will, the estate administrator is appointed by the court, and again, the legal rules which govern may not coincide with the Testator's true wishes.
Even if your estate is of modest size, having a Will is a very good idea. There will be no long time delay in transferring assets to those you intend to benefit, and costs will be kept to a minimum.
A Power of Attorney is a document appointing some other person(s) to make decisions for you. That other person doesn't have to be an attorney or lawyer - typically the person appointed is a spouse or close family member.
Contrary to popular belief, if you become incapable of managing your own affairs, your spouse or closest family member is not automatically entitled to act on your behalf. In Ontario, the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) has this default authority and the PGT must first approve any person proposing to act on your behalf. This can be a complicated, time consuming and costly process. A Power of Attorney avoids the involvement of the PGT, thereby saving time, stress and money.