20 Common Questions About Wills Answered

20 questions wills

When people are thinking of creating a Will, here are 20 of the common questions they are looking to have answered.

1. What is a Will and why do I need one?

A Will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your minor children after your death. Having a Will ensures that your wishes are followed and can simplify the process for your loved ones.

2. How do I start the process of creating a Will?

To start creating a Will, you should gather relevant information about your assets, debts, and beneficiaries. Consider consulting with a lawyer experienced in estate planning to guide you through the process. At Brookshire Law Office, we offer a free 15 minute Wills consultation.

3. Who can help me draft my Will?

It is recommended that you consult an estate planning lawyer when preparing a Will, even in situations where your situation appears simple and straightforward.  Only a estate planning lawyer will be able to advise whether your situation is simple or complex. This will ensure that your Will is created in accordance to local laws and is not declared invalid at the time of your passing.

4. What information and details should I include in my Will?

A Will typically includes details such as the appointment of an executor, the distribution of assets, provisions for minor children or dependents. It’s important to be clear and specific in your instructions to avoid ambiguity.

5. Can I make changes to my Will after it's been created?

Yes, you can make changes to your Will by creating a new Will or adding a codicil, which is a separate document that amends certain provisions of the original Will. It’s advisable to consult with a lawyer to ensure any changes are properly executed and do not invalidate the entire Will.

6. How can I ensure my Will is legally valid?

To ensure your Will is legally valid, it should meet certain requirements, which can vary depending on jurisdiction. Typically, it involves being of sound mind, having the Will in writing, signing it in the presence of witnesses, and having the witnesses sign as well.

7. What happens if I die without a Will?

Dying without a Will, known as dying intestate, means that the distribution of your assets will be determined according to the laws of your jurisdiction. In Nova Scotia this set of laws is the Intestate Succession Act. This may not align with your specific wishes and can lead to complications and disputes among family members.

8. How can I choose an executor for my Will?

An executor is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will. You should choose someone you trust, preferably with good organizational and financial management skills. It’s advisable to discuss your choice with the person beforehand to ensure their willingness to take on the role.

9. Can I include specific instructions for my funeral or burial in my Will?

You can but normally people do not do this. Sometimes people include a memo with their will setting out their burial wishes.

10. How can I provide for my minor children in my Will?

You can appoint a guardian for your minor children in your Will, specifying who should take care of them in the event of your death. Additionally, you can set up trusts or establish provisions for their financial well-being and education until they reach a certain age.

11. Can I disinherit someone in my Will?

Yes, in many jurisdictions, you generally have the right to disinherit someone in your Will. However, it’s important to be aware that in Nova Scotia the law  protects certain individuals, such as spouses or dependent children, from being completely disinherited. Consulting with a lawyer can help you understand the specific rules in your jurisdiction.

12. How do I address digital assets, such as online accounts and cryptocurrencies, in my Will?

Digital assets can be addressed in your Will by specifically including them and providing instructions on how you want them to be handled after your death. It’s crucial to create a detailed inventory of your digital assets, including login credentials, account information, and any specific instructions for each asset. However, digital assets are a complex and evolving area of law, so it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional who specializes in estate planning and digital assets.

13.What are the potential tax implications of my Will?

Tax implications can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the value of your estate. In some countries, there may be estate taxes or inheritance taxes that apply. Consulting with a lawyer or tax professional can help you understand the specific tax implications of your Will and explore potential strategies for minimizing tax burdens.

14. Can I leave assets to charity in my Will?

Yes, you can typically leave assets to charitable organizations in your Will. You can specify which assets or a percentage of your estate you wish to be given to the charity. Consider consulting with a lawyer to ensure your charitable intentions are clearly expressed in your Will.

15. How can I protect my Will from being contested or invalidated?

While it’s not possible to guarantee that a Will won’t be contested, there are some measures you can take to minimize the chances of a successful challenge. These include ensuring the Will is properly drafted, signed, and witnessed according to the legal requirements of your jurisdiction. You can also include a “no-contest” clause, which states that anyone who contests the Will and loses their challenge will receive nothing or a reduced inheritance. Consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you create a Will that is less susceptible to challenges.

16. Should I consider creating a living Will or personal directive?

Creating a living Will or personal directive is a personal decision. These documents allow you to outline your preferences regarding medical treatments and end-of-life care if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. It’s generally recommended to have a living Will or advance healthcare directive in place to ensure your healthcare decisions align with your preferences. Consulting with a lawyer or healthcare professional can help you create these documents according to the laws and requirements in your jurisdiction.

17. How often should I review and update my Will?

It’s advisable to review your Will periodically to ensure it reflects your current circumstances and intentions. Significant life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, or the acquisition of substantial assets may warrant a review and update of your Will. It’s generally recommended to review your Will every few years or whenever a major life event occurs.

18. Can I create a joint Will with my spouse or partner?

You are not able to do a joint will in Nova Scotia.

19. How can I ensure my Will remains confidential until my death?

To ensure the confidentiality of your Will, it’s essential to keep the original document in a safe and secure place, such as a locked box or a bank’s safe deposit box. Informing trusted individuals, such as the executor named in your Will or a close family member, about the location of the Will can help ensure it is found and executed according to your wishes after your passing.

20. What are the costs associated with creating and executing a Will?

The costs associated with creating and executing a Will can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of your estate, the jurisdiction you’re in, and the fees charged by lawyers or professionals involved. It’s advisable to inquire about the costs upfront when consulting with a lawyer or estate planning professional to ensure you have a clear understanding of the expenses involved.

Brookshire Law Office, your Wills & estate planning partners

At Brookshire Law Office we offer all varieties of Will and estate planning services. You can write a Will, a living Will (also referred to as a personal directive), a power of attorney or get all three important documents for a package price of $725 plus HST and expenses or $1095 plus HST and expenses for couples. 

For those with larger estates, near or more than half a million dollars, we offer advanced estate planning. High Value estate planning helps bring together the people, who with their combined knowledge, can help you protect your estate from unnecessary taxes.

Contact us today to book a consultation.

The above is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice — contact a lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances and learn your options.

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