Wills & Powers of Attorney

More than a document, it's a thoughtfully crafted plan

A Will is a cornerstone of Preventive Law and successful estate planning. It is no wonder people find making their Will overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean you need to be intimidated about making yours.

Wills & Powers of Attorney

Your Will is one of the most important documents you will ever create for yourself and your family. A Will is a legal tool that, upon your death, determines how your assets will be divided, who will manage your estate, and ultimately, who will receive the benefit of your estate. If you are like most people, your Will is something you have been thinking about doing for a long time. You understand that a Will is the foundation of a successful estate plan. Having your Will along with Power of Attorney documents in place helps to provide clarity when the time comes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a lawyer to make a Will?

No. A Will is a basic legal tool and you can get a kit at Staples or Canadian Tire. There are a variety of online apps that will also help you create a Will. You can even go to any old lawyer and they will likely make a Will for you on the cheap. The cost of a DIY Will is typically free to a few hundred dollars.

Do I need Estate Planning?

Yes. Estate Planning is the process of creating, documenting, communicating, reviewing, and maintaining a plan for your death (an unavoidable life event) and the sure possibility of your cognitive impairment. An Estate Plan considers legal, financial, practical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of these life events. At its core, an Estate Plan prepares your loved ones for what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to these events and for what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years after these events. One of the most exciting aspects of Estate Planning is that it empowers you (the creator of the Estate Plan) to live a life of purpose; knowing that you are prepared for the opportunities and challenges that these normal life events present.

Do I need to work with a professional to help with my Estate Planning?

Yes. Estate Planning is a process that you go through with thoughtfully considered questions posed by a professional. The piece of paper is the easiest part. The planning and knowing what should be considered for your specific circumstances is the most challenging part, but also the most rewarding. By working with an Estate Planning professional you will become educated and informed about important issues. This in turn will help you to articulate your plan, knowing what legal and non-legal tools you need, and why you need them. Working with a professional also prepares you to consider the big question: “What do death and dying look like for me, and how can I communicate that to my family?” Creating a life-long relationship with an estate/life advisor will be one of the most important professional relationships you will ever form.

How often do I need to update my Will?

As often as your plan changes. There is significant misinformation out there that Wills are permanent documents that last your entire lifetime. That would be true if your assets, relationships, and estate objectives never changed, and if the people involved in your plan also never changed. Instead, we encourage you to think of Estate Planning as a journey that needs to be routinely reviewed as a part of your overall financial and lifestyle management. You do not necessarily need to meet with a professional every year, but it certainly can be beneficial. At the very least, you need to review and update your legal, financial, practical, spiritual, and emotional directions and tools every year. When you recognize that your plan has changed then your legal tools (Will) need to change along with it. Creating a communication and record-keeping log of your reviews and directions contributes significantly to their success and reliability.

What is a Codicil?

A Codicil is a fancy name for an amendment to a Will. Professionals are loath to use them because they are akin to having a leak in your roof and repairing it with a tarp; it looks sloppy and less reliable in the long run. Appropriate use of Codicils should be reserved for urgent situations and minor/aesthetic changes like if someone has a name change or if you want to add an extra $1,000.00 for the Donkey Sanctuary (a great place and they need your help). The truth is, most people who ask for Codicils think they want them because it is less expensive, but that misinformation can be costly because a sloppy plan is less reliable and creates both financial and human confusion in the long run.

If I have a Will in place, is that all I need?

No. A Will is a legal document that provides direction, but they rarely address anything practical. (ie. “Here’s a list of my assets”). Nor do they do so with any heart, voice, or emotion (ie. “Here is the purpose of this gift and what it is intended to accomplish.”) Good Estate Planning includes addressing the legal, practical, and the emotional. Legal documents are only part of your story. We invite you to read more here: https://brownlawyerspc.com/estate-planning/successful-estate-plans-have-this-in-common/

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