Estate planning is an important part of life that many people prefer not to think about. No one wants to think about their own death. However, at the very minimum, people need a simple will in place. Simple wills involve a bare bones document that distributes your estate to your desired beneficiaries. Please read to learn about the basics as well as things you should also think about with respect to your will. If you have questions, please always reach out to the wills and estates lawyers at Kahane Law Office. With offices in both Calgary and Edmonton, we help people across Alberta with their wills. If you want certainty as to if you need a will, here are the top 10 reasons why people do.
Key Simple Will Contents
The name explains the document. Remember, people often pick this option thinking that it saves them a lot of money. This is not always true. At its basic, a simple will contains some limited key information. For example, a simple will includes:
- Your name;
- A statement that the documents is your will;
- The name(s) of your beneficiaries (who gets your estate);
- Your personal representative (formerly known as an executor or executrix);
- How your personal representative is to divide your things to your beneficiaries;
- Guardians of your children;
- Your signature (in front of two witnesses); and lastly
- The signature of your witnesses.
Instead of witnesses, holographic wills remain valid in Alberta.
When Are Simple Wills Enough?
In the event that a person has very few assets, a simple will may be enough. Read below for the problem with simple wills. This allows you to make an informed choice. Please note that the cost of a properly drafted full will, at Kahane Law office, is not expensive. Further, a simple will lacks certain protections if you have kids. While it provides for a guardian, it lacks the trust feature to protect them. Many people ask about will kits. So many, in fact, that we include information on the pros and cons on will kits with this link. The surrogate court deals with estate issues, however, the requirement involves reading the will and not fixing problems.
The Problem With A Simple Will
The main problem with a simple will is that it lacks key aspects of proper estate planning. In fact, it lacking key aspects, is the best case scenario. Often, simple wills miss fundamental components of a will. This often leaves an estate with a full or partial intestacy. Further, problems come up when people or kits leave out certain aspects. For example, using the wrong words, leaving out a residual beneficiary, alternative options in 3-5 different parts of the will, trusts, end of life wishes, are just a few of the problems we see. These issues lead to more familial infighting, higher costs to deal with the estate, more stress for your family and a longer time to finalize the estate, even if the estate includes few assets.
What Simple Wills Are Missing
Since each person’s will should be uniquely drafted for them, no single list captures all the aspects that simple wills miss. However, some factors routinely come up. For example, many simple wills lack:
- Trusts for minors or dependents;
- Tax planning strategies;
- Alternative options if people named in a will die, cannot or will not act;
- Options for beneficiaries with kids or without kids;
- Reference or accommodations required under the law or private contracts you previously entered into;
- Gifts to charities or non-family members;
- End of life options; and lastly
- Proper and full language to avoid partial intestacies.
How Estates Lawyers Help You Draft A Will That Is Right For You
A good estate lawyer walks you through the whole process of estate planning. They often complete your will or whole will package at one flat rate. They help you understand your options, the consequences of each option and then properly draft everything. With proper explanation, options, planning and drafting, people avoid the problems that lead to high costs, stress, time and fighting. Unfortunately estate fights between family members tend to be emotional and contentious. Anything you do to avoid ambiguity, uncertainty or gaps in the legal drafting, make life simpler and easier for your family.
Cost Difference Between A Will And A Simple Will
Since cost usually motivates people, we start with that. In most cases, the difference between a will and a simple will is often less than $100. Remember, no expiry date exists on your will. This means that a full properly drafted will works for your entire life. If a change in your life circumstances comes up, then an option of changing the proper will with a codicil exists. This means that the original investment in the will keeps working. The cost of an estate plan that leads to a partial intestacy and / or estate litigation often costs many thousands of dollars
Lastly, once you prepare your will, by also including an enduring power of attorney and personal directive, you avoid more potential issues and the added cost for those two documents is low. Ask your estate lawyer about the cost of a full estate plan to allow you to make an informed choice.
Getting Your Will Drafted In Alberta
Do not wait. The estate law team at Kahane Law office, makes the whole process simple, easy and cost effective. We usually start by sending you an email with the types of things you need to think about. Next, we also provide step by step help in a personal, video or phone meeting to help you decide what to include in your will. We understand that everyone’s estate needs are different. We draft each will uniquely for each client. Email or call us today. If you email us, it lets us send you the information email easily. Please use this email to receive the will information kit. You can reach us toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 anywhere in Alberta. Alternatively, call our Calgary office at 403-225-8810, or you can call our Edmonton office directly at (780) 571-8463.