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Estates, Wills and Trusts Group

You need sound advice to protect and preserve your estate and to provide for an orderly transition from one generation to the next. You deserve that peace of mind.

Our Estate Law Group provides advice and counsel regarding every aspect of estate planning, estate administration and estate litigation.

Your estate is personal to you. No two estates are the same. Our lawyers will listen carefully to understand your wishes and develop an estate plan particular to your needs.

Our expertise includes:
  • wills
  • powers of attorney (property and personal care)
  • trusts
  • estate planning
  • estate administration (probate, estate accounting, distribution and wind up)
  • estate litigation
  • guardianship
  • business succession
  • probate and tax avoidance strategies
  • wealth preservation
Estates, Wills & Trusts Law Group, Sullivan Mahoney LLP

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is a will important?

    A lot of people ask why is it important to have a will? First of all, you want to make sure that your intentions are realized. You work hard to accumulate assets all your life and you want to make sure that when you pass away, those assets are going to be distributed the way you want them to be distributed, and not leave them to chance.

    Secondly, if you do not have a will, it will be difficult for your family members to do with your estate what you want to do with it.  If you do not have a will in place when you pass away, your family members will be forced to make an application to court, and that’s costly and time consuming.

    A will allows you to effectively plan your estate. If you do not have a will in place, then your plan that you may have in mind, or told other people, won’t be official until it is in writing, and been properly done, in the form of a will.

    It is also important to have a will to take care of other matters as well. Such as; Who will be the legal guardian of any children you may have? Will you compensate your executors? And how will you protect your will and estate assets from a departing or divorcing spouse? How will you keep your will and estate assets distributed along family or bloodlines.

  • Why not do my will myself?

    The problem with the do-it-yourself will kit is that it is a generic form that usually has fill in the blanks and there is no way you’ll be able to properly understand what you’re doing if you’re just filling in blanks on a piece of paper.

    You have to remember that everybody’s situation is different, everybody’s estate is different and everybody’s assets are different. And for that reason, you need to have a will that is tailored to your specific needs and your specific situation.

    Another thing a lot of people don’t realize is that there are other considerations that you have to keep in mind when planning your estate. The will is part of the estate plan. You have to think about things like income tax, probate tax, and other important considerations when getting your will together.

    The right professional advice will help you to ask the right questions so, at the end of the day, you will have a will in place that is perfectly tailored to you.

  • Basic considerations when making a will

    There is a couple of important aspects you want to consider when preparing a will. First of all, you want to look at who your executors will be. The choice of executor is an important decision because the executor is the person in charge of administering your estate, and distributing the assets of your estate. So, for the choice of executor, you want to ensure it is someone you trust.  Usually with spouses, the spouses will choose each other as their first choice of executor.  If that’s not your situation, you can choose someone else. You just have to make sure it someone that knows your intentions and someone you can trust.

    Also, you want to make sure your executors are geographically nearby.  If your executor is in another province or in another country there may be unforeseen consequences you have not thought about that may cost the estate time and money.

    The last thing you should be aware of is you can have more than one executor acting at more than one time. If you think it will be beneficial for your estate having more than one person making decisions respecting the administration of the estate, by all means you should think about that.

    The second thing you should consider about when thinking about your will is who your beneficiaries will be. The beneficiaries are those people entitled to your estate in your will. Typically, beneficiaries are your spouse if you have one, and after that, your children. Again, if this is not your situation you will want to have a plan in place and a well drafted will, will help you do that.

  • The importance of powers of attorney

    The other aspect of estate planning that is very important are powers of attorney.

    Where a will governs after you’ve passed away, powers of attorney govern while you are still alive.

    A power of attorney is a document whereby you appoint someone else to make decisions for you when you cannot make those decisions yourself. For example, you are alive but you are in a comma and someone else has to make decisions for you.

    In Ontario, there are two basic types or powers of attorney. The first one is the power of attorney for personal care. The power of attorney for personal care covers specific decisions that an attorney will make on your behalf. Such as decisions respecting shelter, clothing, hygiene, and the most important one, consent or refusal of consent for medical treatment. You will want to make sure you have someone in place for attorney for personal care that knows you very well and that will make the appropriate decision for you based on your medical circumstances.

    The second type of power of attorney is the power of attorney for property. The power of attorney for property is a more general attorney that covers any decisions not covered by the specific power of attorney for personal care.