There are many options out there to draft estate planning documents – documents drafted with a lawyer, online step-by-step services, make-your-own will kits, or writing something yourself from scratch. The rates charged by lawyers to prepare wills can at times be considered costly, when there are other cheaper alternatives out there. What advantages does a lawyer bring to the table to justify the cost?
- There is more to drafting a will than the actual drafting: The process of meeting with a lawyer is much more than just the documents that you actually sign. A lawyer will take the time to understand your unique personal and family situation, your assets and liabilities, and what you are hoping to accomplish with your estate planning. They will provide you advice and information to deal with your current assets, recommendations to consider for the future, and advise you as to circumstances that may require you to make changes to the documents. They will also take the time to review the draft documents with you to ensure that you understand what you are signing.
- A lawyer will make sure your documents are valid: there are rules in Ontario that govern wills, including form and witnessing rules. If you don’t meet the necessary requirements, your will could be held to be invalid and it could be treated as though you died intestate. Your estate would then be divided under the laws of Ontario, which may not be how you wanted.
- A lawyer will make sure your documents do what you want them to: Estate litigation is an unfortunate reality. Wills are challenged due to ambiguities, the circumstances surrounding changes, and general unfairness. The wording used by lawyers in wills they draft is based on experience, case law, and professional standards. A lawyer will draft a will that is clear and concise in accordance with current case law, in order to close possible loopholes that could be exploited by someone in bad faith.
- An upfront cost can save you money in the long run: An improperly drafted will can cost a lot of money. While you may save a bit now, your estate could end up having to pay taxes or probate fees on assets that could otherwise have been excluded, have provisions in your will that are unclear and unable to be acted on by your executors without judicial input, or written in a way that can cause your loved ones to end up fighting over your estate. Drafting the documents right the first time helps ensure that your money go to your loved ones the way you planned.
If you need to get a will drafted, or to review your current documents and discuss changes, contact Ian R. Blain Law Professional Corporation to set up a consultation.