There is no fool-proof method to prevent family and friends from challenging a will. However, there are a few details testators can include within their wills to help resolve matters if a dispute arises after they have passed.
Preparing a will can sometimes be an emotional affair. This especially true when it comes to personal items and heirlooms. Choosing who should receive these items can be a very loving and exciting time, but it can also add some conflict to the estate planning process if family members disagree on the decision. People often ask how to avoid such disputes and whether Ontario law has any say in where such items end up.
When it comes to end-of-life decisions, proper planning is crucial. In Ontario, estate planning documents may include a health care directive that provides the Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) with guidance about the patient's wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment. Such guidance would be extremely helpful for the appointed SDM when a serious decision has to be made under very stressful circumstances.
When someone is given a "medical" powner of attorney (Powner of Attorney for Personal Care), the individual appointed as the attorney can make medical decisions on behalf of the person who granted that authority. The attorney for personal care can make decisions about such matters as the person's health care, living situation, hygiene, nutrition, clothing and safety.
Almost everyone uses a computer these days. Most residents in Canada have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But what happens to those accounts when the person to whom they belong dies? That question can actually be answered ahead of time by everyone who takes the time to do some estate planning.
Many people work hard all their lives to be able to enjoy their retirement years, but also to be able to leave something for their loved ones after they pass away. Part of good estate planning in Canada means knowing how to best maximize investments such as a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). But what happens to an RRIF after someone dies? The answer basically hinges on two things: whether a beneficiary is named and, if so, who that beneficiary is.
Even when someone dies, his or her debts must be paid. Those payments come from the person's estate. It's only after those debts have been taken care of and other expenses like funeral costs, taxes, legal fees and probate fees, if any, have been met that beneficiaries receive what they have been bequeathed. There are some prudent steps individuals can use to minimize those payments when estate planning.
No one likes to think about getting sick but making plans for unforeseen events could make things much less stressful for loved ones. Estate planning could include an advance care directive -- a document that stipulates a person's wishes regarding medical care should the individual be incapacitated and thus unable to make those decisions. Those in Canada who have a serious illness might wish to discuss their wishes with their health care teams as well as family members, but having a document in place is a wise move.
There is an old adage that says the only certainties in life are death and taxes. In estate planning, the two seem to go hand-in-hand but that doesn't mean the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should turn out to be an estate's primary beneficiary. For those who don't wish to leave almost half of their assets to the government, savvy estate planning is crucial. When someone dies, the CRA deems their assets as having been disposed of even if they haven't, in fact, been sold. Those assets are then taxed using a fair market value.
In the film Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara realizes there is nothing more valuable than the land which is owned by her family. Many people in the throes of estate planning in Canada should take into consideration that property may be one of the assets their heirs would most like to have. Sometimes that can cause problems, considering the family farmhouse usually can't be split in half.