Preparing for your first meeting with your will and estate planning lawyer

Preparing for your first meeting with your will and estate planning lawyer

To help you prepare for your first meeting with a lawyer at Merovitz Potechin LLP, it is helpful to take some time and to consider a few important issues and gather some essential information. To assist you further, a member of our team will send you a detailed Estate Planning Guide and checklist in advance of your consultation, or you can download a copy yourself by clicking on the link at the end of this page.

Significant issues which you will need to consider include:

1) Providing For Your Dependents: To help ensure your Will is not challenged in the future, you must take your dependents into account.  Dependents may include a spouse, minor children, adopted children, children born outside of marriage and parents.

2) Who Will Administer Your Estate? Your Executor – the person who carries out the provisions of the Will in accordance with your intentions – is often a trusted friend or relative. The duties of an Executor can be complex. Be certain that the person you choose is willing and capable of handling this responsibility. Alternatively, you might consider appointing a financial institution or instructing the executor to use a financial institution as an advisor or agent in the financial administration of the estate.

3) Determining Your Assets: Which assets need to be considered for inclusion in your Will? All of your property, such as life insurance policies, pension plans and annuities, RRSPs, RRIFs, bank accounts, bonds, stocks and other investments, and ownership of private businesses, should be considered, along with valuable personal items. Ownership or interest in assets outside of Ontario and outside of Canada should also be identified when you first meet with a team member at Merovitz Potechin LLP. For each of your assets, once identified, you will need to provide appropriate details, including the location of the issuing institution (if applicable) and how title to the property is held.

4) What Are Your Liabilities? Before you identify and allocate specific gifts for your beneficiaries, you must have an accurate understanding of your liabilities and the effect of taxation on the value of your Estate at death. This accounting will affect the final value of your estate.  Common liabilities include mortgages, loans, and other debts.

5) Including Your Home in Your Will: What is the status of the registered title of your home? How title to your home is held will affect how your home (or the proceeds of your home once sold to a third party) is distributed to your beneficiaries.  In Ontario, real estate can be registered by one or more persons or corporations in joint ownership as a joint tenancy or as a tenancy-in-common, or in a person’s name or the name of a corporation as sole owner. When property is registered in joint tenancy, it passes automatically to the surviving joint owner(s) and it does not form a part of your Estate. However, with a tenancy-in-common, the results are different. The team at Merovitz Potechin LLP, in conjunction with our real estate professionals, can review the title to your home and provide you with expert advice.

Still want to know more? Our online Estate Planning Checklist may be downloaded here.

Our Wills, Trusts and Estates team is ready to help you. To consult with a member of our firm confidentially, please email us or call 613-563-7544.