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Do-it-yourself wills and estate planning

Ontario residents may have heard that Walmart has moved into the estate planning business. The big-box store is now selling wills for $99 in many locations. There are also other wills available online for less including one form that is free, making simple estate planning widely available. However, experts advise that even though those options are less expensive, it is usually worth spending the money to have the document drafted by a lawyer for a number of reasons.

In many cases, the language in a will may seem simple, but small changes in word choice can drastically change of the document is executed. The use and placement of words as simple as "and" can make a difference in how a will is treated and whether the intentions of its maker are carried out. Furthermore, laws about wills differ between provinces, limiting the effectiveness of documents that are sold in multiple jurisdictions.

Another issue is that these wills often do not have provisions for the financial complications of most people's lives, and this includes fairly common assets such as insurance, pension plans and property held in joint tenancy. Furthermore, there is more to estate planning than writing a will. Many people do not realize that arranging for financial and medical directives regarding what they want done if they become incapacitated is also an important part of estate planning.

According to some estimates, more than half of all Canadians do not have wills, and nearly one-third of them say it is either because wills are too expensive or because they do not know what they need to do to create a will. However, such documents can be important for the transference of wealth to heirs. A lawyer may be able to help a person that is interested in estate planning draft a will that caters to the client's needs and provincial statues.

Source: Yahoo! Canada Finance, "Wal-Mart wills: Should you trust estate planning to a big box store?", Gail Johnson, July 14, 2014

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