Almost every time I present a seminar on estate planning, the question comes up – can I just use a Will kit? This is not something I recommend, so my answer is usually the same, you shouldn’t. Unfortunately, many people still use will kits because they appear economical, but the result of using one can be quite costly in the end.
The Wills Act is a provincial law that sets out the specific legal requirements needed to create a valid Will and is different in each province. Most of these will kits have been prepared in Ontario or even the United States, without consideration for those who would be using it in Nova Scotia. An example of this is the number of witnesses required and what their relationship to each other can be. If this is not done correctly, the Will can be invalid.
Each person’s situation is different and will kits may not consider things such as blended families, adopted or unborn children, former spouses or family members with special needs. Your lawyer will ask you a number of estate planning questions that you may not have thought of and create a product that is unique to your situation. A lawyer will also help you plan your estate to consider methods to avoid additional taxes on your estate.
A lawyer will make sure that your Will matches what you personally want and ensure that you are not being influenced by another person. If you complete a will kit you do not have that same layer of protection to ensure you are not being influenced and if someone challenges your Will in court after you are gone, they may say you were influenced in your decisions by even a family member who was with you when you completed the Will.
Other Estate Planning
Your lawyer will also speak with you about other legal documents that are important to consider when planning your estate. For example, your lawyer will discuss an Enduring Power of Attorney that allows someone to act on your behalf, particularly when you are not able to do so yourself. Your lawyer will also discuss a Personal Care Directive which will give someone the authority to make health care and personal care decisions on your behalf when you are not able to. Not having these documents in place can make for a difficult road when you are nearing the end stages of life.
Clients often tell me that they’ve been meaning to get this done for a long time but they have been very busy. A will kit is not the right solution for this. I offer mobile legal services with flexible appointment times so we can work around your schedule to help you take care of this. The best way to ensure that things happen the way you want them to when you pass is to meet with a lawyer and let them take the time to consider the best way to draft your documents to achieve what you are looking for. Contact us today to set up your initial appointment before it slips your mind again.