Do you need a lawyer to make a will?
A will is one of the most important legal documents for an individual to have, and yet only 44 per cent of B.C. adults have a will in place. Some put off making a will because they feel uncomfortable, which is understandable since making a will involves considering the impact of your death, the future care of your children and how your assets will be distributed and when.
Others think they do not need a will and that the law will distribute their assets equally between loved ones. However, the truth is that everything you own will be dealt out in a standard way as defined by the law, which is not always in line with your wishes.
There is also the perception of cost. The document does not have to be processed by a lawyer or notarized to be legally binding. So, if money is tight, some decide to do it themselves, and this may include downloading one of the many will kits available online.
The issue with doing your will yourself is that it may not be done correctly, and it may end up costing your estate thousands of dollars to correct the problems, not to mention creating confusion and unexpected complications for your loved ones.
Problems that may arise with DIY wills include:
- Incorrect language, which can result in your estate being divided contrary to your wishes or invalidating a gift. It could also render the entire document invalid.
- An executor may not be appointed. In this case, a family member may have to make an application to the court, or your estate may be provided a court appointed executor.
- Circumstances can change and it is difficult when you are writing a will to think about all the contingencies. Some things may be missed, and this can cause problems that are complicated and costly to resolve.
Ultimately, the goal is to make sure your wishes are carried out and that loved ones are not unnecessarily burdened. When preparing your will, lawyers pay close attention to the language, making sure it is not contradictory to your intentions. Enlisting the help of a professional can also minimize costs to administer your estate.
At Rella, Paolini & Rogers, we have experience in drafting wills and other estate planning documents. We know it is not an easy topic for everyone, and therefore strive to make the experience as pain free as possible.