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My mother is not doing well,she is also very stubborn and does not want to deal with a lawyer because of her depression and anxiety. Therfore,she will not write up a will with a lawyer, she dosent want to see anyone (lawyer) and she does not want to pay. She had some money come in from an insurance claim and is about $80,000 in debt, i have been helping her settle with a third party and also with other creditors. She wants to make her bank account joint with me but because of odsp i cant. She want to appoint me her poa and her executor but does not want to pay or see anyone. I asked her to write a letter and she said she wanted me to write something up quick for her ( i told her its best she handwrite it) She said it was fine for me.The letter was 2 paragraphs, the first one stating that she wants me to be her power of attorney and the second one statsing that she wants me to take care of her funeral arrangements,debts,property,assests. She signed the document and it was witnessed by a husband and wife friend of mine (also my moms old employees) The document was dated. Would this document be legal in a court of law. I am scared her greedy money hungry common-law who owns nothing or my father (still married but seperated for 24 years) will try and fight it. Also maybe my siblings will try and go after her house/ money. She will not meet anyone to get this totally legal which would be best so I dont have a headache latter. Please advise me if you can thank you so much
Lynne Butler has left a new comment on the post "What happens if the executor has a stroke and can'...":
If she simply will not go to a lawyer, perhaps you should look into a DIY kit for her documents? They won't cost much but you'd have more help than the zero help you have now. Check out Self Counsel Press's web page.
Posted by Lynne Butler-Lawyer East Coast Canada
Did you know that it is illegal to enter or leave an airplane mid-flight without a parachute? Even with a parachute, I'd think that entering a plane mid-flight might be tricky. Not that leaving without one would be a piece of cake.
It's also illegal to do anything to intentionally alarm or frighten Queen Elizabeth. Good to know for the next time you two are hanging out together.
It is, however, legal for a hotel owner to sell your horse if you don't pay your hotel bill within two weeks.
And have you ever wondered about paying your bills all in coins? You can, as long as you follow these rules:
You cannot use more than the following quantities of change for certain amounts:
- Forty dollars if the denomination is two dollars or greater but does not exceed ten dollars;
- Twenty-five dollars if the denomination is one dollar;
- Ten dollars if the denomination is ten cents or greater but less than one dollar;
- Five dollars if the denomination is five cents; and
- Twenty-five cents if the denomination is one cent.
I am not a lawyer, but I could play one on TV.
Would this document be legal?
sure it would be legal, very few documents are illegal in court. To be illegal you would have to forge someone's name on it or something.
The more important question is, would that document help you?
the answer to that would be..... (drumroll), it would be slightly better than nothing.
going to a office supply store and buying a will kit would help you a whole lot more.
then you would really have something that would help you in court if contested.
also the signature should be notarized, not just witnessed by other people.
WillowBee will-writing app is absolute crap
Lynne Butler-Lawyer East Coast Canada
Recently I received an email from a company in Ontario called Willowbee telling me that they have created an app that lets you prepare your own will in 8 minutes or less. They invited me to try it out and provide comment, so I did. This post will let you know the results.
My first comment is that you should RUN - not walk - away from this app. What a disaster! I used the free app, as I'm sure most people will do. They offer a "lawyer concierge" who will check over the document for a few hundred dollars, but given the general crappiness of the legal work already in the app, I wouldn't pay a cent for the "lawyer concierge".
I'll give you some particulars of the problems I ran into.
One of the biggest problems I had with it is that without asking me or telling me anything, the app spit out a will that talked on and on about a "primary will" and a "secondary will". What? That's not legal anywhere except Ontario as far as I know. For sure it's not legal where I live. Would you know if it's legal where you live? The app asked me at the beginning which province I live in and I didn't pick Ontario. I didn't ask for that, and I certainly didn't ask for the half page of legalese that went with it. There's no way a layman could work with that language. And even if I lived in Ontario, are multiple wills a good idea for a person in my situation? Would you know if they were a good idea for you?
The app asked me if I own a corporation and I said yes, and then the will it gave me specifically said that the shares of my corporation are not included in my estate. But why? I didn't ask for that. Of course I want my company to be part of my estate! And just to make things really confusing, the will went on to give the executor of my estate power to deal with companies I own and to hire people to work in companies I own. So is the company covered by the will or not? The app sure doesn't know.
Speaking of picking my province, as I said, I didn't choose Ontario. Yet the will was full of specific references to Ontario's laws such as the Estate Administration Tax Act, the Children's Law Reform Act and the Succession Law Reform Act. Those laws don't exist outside of Ontario. Why ask me my province if they're going to include law from some other province? If this was your will, would you know if those laws applied to you? Wills laws are all provincial and they are very different from each other. What happens if you have a will full of Ontario references when you don't live in Ontario?
The app asked me whether I am married, common law, widowed, etc. I chose to say I live common law with a made-up person called JJ. As I went through, it asked me the relationship to each of the beneficiaries and I gave 3 different names as my married spouse. The will just filled in that way, giving me a common law husband and 3 married husbands. Imagine how easy it would be to make a mistake if the app doesn't even catch MAJOR mistakes like that. Then imagine the litigation that would make lawyers rich for years as they untangled it all.
Also, in my province, as in others, if I married my hypothetical common law husband, my will would automatically be revoked but the app didn't tell me that or put anything into the will to address it.
I also gave a gift I described as "my car" (no details) to two different people and again the app just accepted it that way. So who would get the car after my death?
I included a monetary gift to a charity that I simply called "cancer charity". Have you ever googled "cancer charity"? Probably not, but if you did you'd find dozens, if not hundreds, of answers. So who would that money go to after my death? It would go to the lawyers hired by the dozens of charities to clarify my will in court.
The app asked me to appoint a guardian for minor children so I made up a name for a guardian and an alternate guardian. For some reason, the will it gave me talked about the two guardians acting together. I know the meaning of an alternate guardian even if the app doesn't and I didn't ask for them to work together. I also notice that the app doesn't allow for you to set up funds to flow to the guardian to support the children while they are minors.
Neither does it cover:
- which assets are taxable
- what the tax might be
- how your joint assets fit in
- what happens with your assets with designated beneficiaries
- whether your executor should be paid or not
- what to do about money you've advanced to family members
The issue that dropped my jaw is that if you give an answer that seems complicated, the app tells you that you need to talk to the "lawyer concierge" but if you don't want to do that, you can go back and change your answers. I was horrified. You can actually go back and change your answer if you find your real life situation to be inconvenient.
When you download your will, the app spits out a page of instructions for printing and witnessing your will. It tells you to print "at least two copies" of your will for signing. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. You can only have ONE original will.
All I can say is please do not use this app. It will give you a completely false sense of security. Even if you never find out how bad the will is, your family sure will. Your will doesn't have to cost a fortune. I know money is tight for lots of people. But is putting everything you own or will ever own at risk really a good idea? Unless you want to make a lot of lawyers a lot of money on a lawsuit to figure out your will after your death, don't use this piece of junk.
And it's asking a lot for some software to keep track of now detailed the instructions should be to give away your stuff.
My guess is that very few people are in that situation and most people have one or two kids and a wife and want to split everything they own between these two or three people. it probably works fine for that.
Prince died with no will, and how everyone is suing everyone else, if he had just filled out one of those cheap software wills there would probably be a lot less lawsuits even if it wasn't perfect it probably would have been better than nothing.
She has in the past suggested will Kits for situations where the individual did not want to right a will...as a last resort.
Not all will kits are created equal.
Family's today are not like they used to be. Not just mom dad and kids. There are MANY complication.
Some of the simplest Estates run into enourmous difficulties because of delinquent beneficiaries and Executors. IMO the Courts should be be very tough on them. This would send a stong message.
There are will kits from well known lawyers in ie Toronto. No doubt will kits can be obtained many cities in N America.
Wills should be properly structured as there are family members others that create havoc.
It's about finding a good lawyer...not one who is good at what he/sh does but one that is a man/woman of integrity....ethics etc. Many have a huge blank space when it comes to that. I know as I speak from experience.
Many things in law should be simple but that is not always the case.
Life changes. So should your will, say estate experts
Lynne Butler-Lawyer-East Coast Canada
I was recently interviewed for an article that appeared in the Toronto Star. It's all about updating your will to keep up with changes in your life. Click here
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It's Free Wills Month in St. John's, NL and we're proud to be part of it
Posted by Lynne Butler
This is Free Wills Month in my home town! We are proud to be participating in this worthwhile project of the Canadian Cancer Society and other leading charitable organizations. Click here to learn where and when this event is happening and to see a list of the law firms participating.
This is your chance to get your basic will prepared for free and to leave a donation to one of many life-changing charities. If your will is complex or if you want additional documents such as Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives, there will be a fee (just thought I'd throw that in there so nobody is taken by surprise!)
Father disinherited from son's estate for abandonment
Lynne Butler-Lawyer East Coast Canada
Here is a twist on the usual stories we hear about people being disinherited. Usually the story is that a parent left a child out of the will. In this case from Kentucky, a father has been disinherited for abandoning his son.
A young man named Brandon died in a car accident when he was 24 years old and did not leave a will. His parents, being his next of kin, should be the people who would inherit his estate. Brandon did not have an especially large estate but there was quite a bit of interest in the fact that there would be a large settlement arising from the fatal car accident.
Brandon's mother objected to Brandon's father receiving half of the estate on the basis that the father had abandoned the boy. Brandon's parents were never married, and in fact it wasn't until Brandon was 7 years old that his mother sought out the father and told him about Brandon. The father acknowledged that he was the father and paid the amount of child support ordered by the court for a few years. The father saw Brandon only a couple of times. When Brandon was 11, his mother married and Brandon's surname was changed to that of his new step-father. After that, the father had no contact with Brandon and paid no child support.
For more detail about the facts of the family history, here is the story.
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It's an interesting concept from an estate litigation point of view because the crux of the issue seems to be whether the father deserved to inherit something. Most of the time, estate law gives a right to inherit to people regardless of whether they are deserving or how they have behaved. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, since all rules have exceptions but as a general statement it's the legal relationship that creates rights and not the quality of the relationship.
Brandon lived in a state where the law specifically addresses the issue of parental abandonment. I have looked at the law of several provinces and I do not see an equivalent provision. I suspect that our courts might have a very different outcome on the same facts.
I'd love to hear what you readers think about this. Should Brandon's father have the same right to inherit as his mother? Is this a case of a disinterested parent suddenly getting interested because of the money, and if so, should that matter? Should a parent have a right to inherit just as a child would, even if the relationship was not especially good?
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I would like to point out that this is an excellent kit to have. Why?
You don't have to use it if you don't want to but it is often uiseful as a temporary will until you ae ready to see a lawyer if that is your choice. About 50% of adults do not have a will. Many due to procrastination. Do your heirs a favour. Estate Horrors are real and they cost not only in money terms, but emotional, not to mention the breakup of families and relationships etc..
Another benefit. Rather then waste time in a lawyer's office you can learn a great deal from the kit. ie what does it entail, what questions to ask etc . It may elicit thoughts, and questions you never thought of prior to the kit.
A small price to pay. Not all lawyers are good at making 'good' wills.
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Married vs common law rights in estate matters----Canada-Ontario
Normally I post things that apply to readers across the country, but in this case the article focuses on Ontario. Please take note of that if you are reading from other provinces! I wanted to post this article despite its being limited in geographic scope because it's very good. It's a really on-point discussion of the differences between being legally married and being in a common law relationship when one of the partners passes away.
The rights of common law partners are different in each province.
My experience with my own clients has been that the differences between legal marriage and common law relationships are not clear to people. They make assumptions about their rights and their partner's rights that are, unfortunately, incorrect and usually not discovered until too late.
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Buzz Aldrin sues children, alleging misuse of his finances
Today I read an article on CBC News about former astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, one of the crew who famously landed on the moon in 1969. Now 88 years old, Mr. Aldrin has put his son and daughter in charge of various trusts and foundations, and has given his son power of attorney over his personal finances. You can read the article by clicking
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What a mess.
One of the reasons I wanted to post this article is to show that putting your children in charge of your financial affairs is not always a great idea. For many people, choosing one of their children is automatic. They trust their children. However, that may not be enough. When I talk to clients about their choice of attorney under their Power of Attorney, I casually ask why the son or daughter they've named is a good candidate. Often I hear good answers, such as descriptions of the son or daughter as level-headed or good with money.
Sometimes, though, the answer I hear is "well, he's my son, so..." To the speaker of that sentence, it means that unwavering loyalty and honesty are expected, even if the son has never demonstrated those qualities. That expectation is not always realistic.
Another reason for posting the article is to show that even though we're not all former astronauts and we don't necessarily have enough money to set up family trusts and foundations, the issues are the same. Who to trust with our money. How to prepare for the possible onset of dementia. How to maintain autonomy and independence as we age. How to deal with struggles within the family.
Estate litigation pits family members against each other and for that reason is heart-breaking. Be careful about who you give power and authority because it's not easy to take it back.
Rich Kids Are Counting on Inheritance to Pay For Retirement
I always find the idea of expecting an inheritance interesting to watch in terms of how that expectation makes people behave. As usual, I fall back on my own experience with my own clients, since I have now more than 30 years of dealing with people talking about inheritance from one angle or another.
This recent article from Bloomberg discusses the fact that the younger generation of wealthy families is counting on inheriting enough money to have a comfortable retirement. Click below to read the article.
The article takes a sympathetic look at those wealthy youngsters, with a things-are-tough-all-over view of the situation. The only specific example given in the article as to why things might be "tough" for wealthy kids is student debt. In my experience, kids from wealthy families don't have student debt. That's almost exclusively the burden of those from less affluent families.
When I speak with families who are wealthy - either moderately so or extremely so - one of their main priorities is to ensure there are funds available to put the kids or grand-kids through university. That's so prevalent as to be almost universal. Even the parents who are concerned that too much money will cause their children to be unmotivated and lazy want to ensure that there is free schooling for them.
My will-planning process with clients always involves a review of their assets. There are plenty of good reasons for this including identifying potential tax liability, ensuring that joint property and beneficiary designations are aligned with the overall plan, and knowing what is to be passed to the next generation. Very, very few people mention any expected inheritance. And yet, as I mentioned, those same clients are determined to ensure that their children are looked after financially.
I don't think the leaving of wealth within the family has changed much over the generations. I think what has changed is the current trend of living the high life without restraint, savings, or any sort of self-deprivation, and still expecting to have money to spend, otherwise known as affluenza.
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