When you invest in a lawyer to help you prepare your estate and plan in the event of mental or physical incapacity, you are investing in peace of mind. Estate and incapacity planning, the creation of trusts and disputes that arise with regards to wills and inheritances are complex and emotionally charged. A lawyer can give you the sound advice and guidance you need to ensure your assets and your loved ones are protected.
Having a Will vs Intestate Succession
Having a proper will and estate plan in place is absolutely essential, particularly for those with spouses and children.
If someone dies without a valid will, then that person’s estate is distributed according to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. The Act sets out a mandatory distribution to the deceased person’s spouse (if any), children and direct descendants (if any) and other family members (if no spouse or direct descendants). It’s important to remember here that if someone does not have a valid will, they will give up all control over who benefits from their legacy.
Through a valid will, the will-maker can decide who gets what. Thus, if the will-maker has no spouse or children, and wishes to make bequests to particular friends, family members or charities, the only way for this to happen is to ensure that a a valid will is in place.
Limitations on Wills
While a will-maker has control over who gets what, the law sets limits on that ability. For example, it is very difficult to completely disinherit a child or a spouse.
Also, if a will-maker makes an uneven distribution under a will (preferring one child over others, for example), or makes gifts outside of a will which have the effect of preferring one or more children over others, the other children may challenge the distribution in Court. Under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, if – in the Court’s opinion – the will does not “make adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support of the will-maker’s spouse or children” then the Court can change the will.
In other words, a judge can order that the estate be distributed in a manner different from what the will-maker set out in the will.
Because a will-maker does not have absolute discretion regarding what he/she/they can do through a will, it is very important to get competent and comprehensive legal advice. This includes advice on how best to achieve the will-maker’s wishes, whether those wishes will withstand legal challenges after the will-maker has died as well as implications for family relationships after the will-maker’s death as estate disputes can be distressing and can become acrimonious.
Comprehensive Estate Planning Services
The wills and estates lawyers at the Richmond firm provide a wide scope of estate planning and dispute resolution services, including:
- Estate administration and probate, including ongoing advice to administrators about their responsibilities.
- Incapacity and estate planning, including the creation of wills and trust documents, enduring powers of attorney and committeeship applications to meet personal and financial objectives.
- Disinheritance claims, including commencing or defending against a claim to have a share in an estate increased.
- Disputing a will, including claims that a will is invalid due to formal invalidity, undue influence or incapacity.
- Trusts, including family trusts, spousal trusts, joint partner trusts and alter ego trusts.
Firm counsel are dedicated to providing the best legal advice, tailored to each client’s specific needs, goals and objectives. Knowing and understanding client needs is the first step in that process.
Services for Wills And Estates
Tax and Probate Fee Mitigation
Estate Administration & Probate
Lawyers In This Area
Our wills and estates lawyers are:
To learn more about our counsel, please visit our lawyers page.