Mary Anne Shaw is an established lawyer whose law practice focuses on Wills and Estates, Residential Real Estate and Family Law. Mary Anne Shaw is very active in the community, and has served on many boards and foundations in the not-for-profit arts and health sectors. She provides personal service and practical solutions.
If you still haven’t considered making your Will and Powers of Attorney, please do so because if you don’t you are not doing your beneficiaries or yourself any favours! If you neglect to organize your personal affairs the costs to your estate or yourself personally may be significant.
To refresh your memory, a Will is your way to ensure that your property is distributed to the individuals and charities you would like to benefit on your death. The Will comes into force the day you die. If you don’t have a Will in place when you die, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act, with the result that your assets could go to people you may not intend to benefit, and people you want to leave to benefit your assets to may miss out. Don’t let that happen.
To be valid, a Will must be in writing and signed by yourself in the presence of two witnesses. There must be three people at the table to see each other sign. Sounds straightforward, but these formalities must be followed, otherwise the Will may not be valid. Your witnesses should not be persons also named in your Will to receive a gift, nor should either witness be the spouse of a person named to receive a gift in your Will.
No time for the formalities of a proper Will? In a pinch, you may make a Holograph Will. This is a less formal document, entirely handwritten by you, signed and dated by you at the end of the document. If all these particulars are followed, it may be valid. It may be dangerous to do a Holograph Will if you don’t know what you are doing and certainly if you have assets of any size. Not only do you have to follow the formalities highlighted here, but you have to word the document correctly so that everyone understands it. Furthermore, if you type your Will out on the computer, then print, date and sign it, this Will may not be recognized as a valid Holograph will as it is not in your own handwriting. Then your estate is back at square one and your property will be distributed in accordance with the Succession Law Reform Act.
Don’t forget Powers of Attorney, a real must for both Property and Personal Care. An experienced Wills and Estates lawyer can streamline the process and ensure you don’t trip into any pitfalls.