If you are unsure of the type of will you have, or which type you need, you may need to consult an experienced law firm to help ensure that you have covered all your bases. There are many ways that a will can be revoked or challenged after you pass away. This can cause your estate (what you leave) to be divided in ways you wouldn’t have wanted and can cause turmoil for your family. Here are three questions you can ask to help you choose the best law firm for your needs.
An experienced law firm will be able to help you write a legally-binding will that cannot be challenged in court. In Manitoba your will is considered valid as long as you are over 18 years old, you have hand-written it and your signature is witnessed by at least two people. An experienced law firm will ensure that the witnesses don’t stand to receive any benefits from the will. A person who stands to benefit from a will is known as a beneficiary and many DIY will-writing kits stand a chance of being revoked because people don’t understand this definition. In fact, the witness’s spouse or common-law partner cannot benefit from the will either and an experienced lawyer will never let you make this mistake.
Many people don’t realize that wills are invalidated when they marry and are not cancelled when spouses separate. This causes legal issues for a large number of people. In the case of getting married, you must amend your will to reflect this and the easiest way is simply to write a new will. In the case of separation, the separated spouse can still receive any benefits in a will that was never revised or revoked. A good law firm will offer low rates for carrying out changes or alterations during your lifetime. You will need to prepare a document called a codicil if you want to make a minor change such as a new executor (a person responsible for dividing up your estate) for your will and this can become expensive depending on how frequently you do this. It’s therefore prudent to inquire beforehand the charges for will revisions.
Some wills are revoked because the people named as executors on the will have passed away before the deceased. Many people frequently neglect to amend their wills when adding new executors. It’s therefore important to ask a law firm whether they offer a longer-term solution and periodic checks or revisions to your will. For example, as you approach old-age your close friends and family member may be ineligible to be the executors as they stand to benefit from the will. Alternatively, the person you choose may be unable or unwilling to assume responsibilities associated with being an executor. It can be quite a tough job including looking after paying any debts or expenses of the estate. A reputable law firm will be able to suggest cost-effective solutions that protect the value of your estate when you pass away.