Common Law Couples in Ontario
August 16, 2022
Preparing a will and powers of attorney is a very important consideration for any person at any time but can become even more so when there is a change in family status. If you are moving in with a partner for the first time, in the process of divorcing, or are expecting your first child, it is important to update existing estate planning documents or create a comprehensive estate plan to ensure it aligns with your situation. If your estate documents are out of date at the time of your death, it could create significant problems for both your estate trustee(s) and designated beneficiaries.
Whatever stage of life you are at, wills and powers of attorney are the cornerstones of estate planning and are relevant to you now. These documents will look after your property, interests, and health if you are no longer able to do so. The lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates have been doing this type of work for decades and know how to advise you to create the best plan possible.
The creation and storage of these documents, and the ongoing management of your plans, are all essential steps to looking after your interests. Our team will help put your concerns to rest by creating customized documents that you and your family require, which fully and properly reflect your wishes.
If you created a will during a previous phase of your life, prior to getting married or having children, it is important to update these documents as your circumstances change. People create wills primarily to retain control over how their estate will be distributed after their death, and to make the estate distribution process as simple as possible for their beneficiaries. However, if a will does not accurately take your legal dependants into account, it may create a situation in which your heirs find themselves involved in costly and drawn-out litigation after your death.
Similarly, if your family status has remained the same but you’ve acquired new assets, such as real estate, financial investments, or a new pension, you should also update your will to reflect this. If and when a will is challenged in court, it has a better chance of withstanding judicial scrutiny if the document is as clear and detailed as possible.
If you have had a will in place for many years, particularly one created during a previous marriage, you will need to revise your will if you remarry to ensure it reflects your current circumstances. It is also important to note that the law, as it applies to the effect of a marriage on an existing will, is set to change in January 2022. Currently, marriage has the effect of automatically revoking any existing will, however, this will no longer be the case once the new legislation takes effect. In either case, a new marriage is cause to revisit your existing will, for the following reasons:
Creating powers of attorney is equally important to the creation of a will. While a will enables you to control the distribution of your estate after death, a power of attorney enables you to have a say in who will make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated during your lifetime. In Ontario, there are two types of power of attorney to consider:
A power of attorney for personal care allows you to select the person or persons who will make decisions with respect to your health care, housing, and other issues pertinent to your ongoing care should you become unable to do so.
A power of attorney for property grants authority to one or more people to make decisions about your finances, with the exception of making a Will. This will give them the power to do things such as pay your bills, sell your home, and manage your investment portfolio, should you become incapacitated.
The compassionate and experienced family lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates work with clients to ensure they have a comprehensive estate plan in place, no matter their circumstances. If you are in the process of entering a new phase of life through marriage or divorce, we will review your current plan and advise on necessary changes to help you and your future estate avoid unnecessary complications. To review your matter with a member of our team, please reach out to us online, or call us at 905-591-4545.