Dianne Nice, an author for The Globe and Mail, wrote a piece on her experience in planning her estate. Her article, "Will Mistakes: I’ve Made a Few", focuses on errors that she encountered when creating her estate plan.
Ms. Nice states that while she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband decided it was time to draw their wills. Ms. Nice and her husband met with a local estate lawyer and instructed the lawyer to prepare two simple wills with their children’s welfare in mind. However, no consideration was given to the possibility that either her or her husband could become incapacitated. If this unfortunate circumstance was to occur, it would likely lead to several other legal issues. For instance, after speaking with a reputable estate lawyer, Ms. Nice learned that even though her husband and her were joint owners of their home, if her husband became incapacitated and did not name her as his power of attorney, she would not have the right to sell or refinance their home. Also, just because they are married, that did not mean she has the right to make financial decisions for her husband without a power of attorney or a guardianship order.
Other common errors that Ms. Nice pointed to were:
• Placing too much trust in your delegated financial decision maker
• Avoiding making a will by using beneficiary designations and joint ownership of assets
• Leaving behind a handwritten or will kit will instead of retaining professional assistance
• Neglecting to update your will as you enter marriage or a committed relationship
• Not updating wills to reflect the life stages of your children
• Trying to change your will by writing on the original or a copy of the will, or using too many codicils
The above errors should provide insight for consideration when we are considering our estate plan.
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