CONSCIOUS ESTATE PLANNING
Your Will is one of the most important legal tools you will ever create for yourself and your loved ones. A Will is a legal document 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. But putting a Will in place can also be so much more meaningful than that.
The process of creating a Will is an opportunity to ask yourself important questions like: What’s the money for? Doesn’t my life mean something more than just the stuff I have accumulated before I die? What more do I need to communicate to my loved ones? Questions like these have a lot to say about your life.
Having your Will and Power of Attorney documents in place helps to provide legal clarity when you die or are incapacitated, and the process of creating your Will can similarly provide you with clarity and direction about how you want to live.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR WILL?
You might be surprised to hear that we believe thinking about your death more can make your life better. Living your life honestly and accepting reality can give you a lot of perspective and fulfilment. You might find reading a bit more about Wills, Powers of Attorneys and estate planning in general to a comfortable way to get used to thinking of your life as finite. Every day is a gift, and acknowledging that makes it all the better.
WHAT WORRIES YOU ABOUT MAKING YOUR WILL?
When something makes us uncomfortable, it’s usually because we don’t know as much as we’d like to about it. Nothing is scarier than the unknown, and while we know we will die, beyond that might be the biggest unknown of all. It’s natural to want to avoid something that makes us uncomfortable, but asking questions and gaining knowledge can make it all feel less intimidating. You aren’t alone – this is something that we all need to deal with.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Codicil is a fancy name for a separate legal document that amends an existing Will. It will say something like “remove paragraph 2 of my Will and replace it with this new paragraph 2”, etc.
There is a misconception that a Codicil is a preferred way to change a Will because it is cheaper. However, this notion fails to account for a significant downside to making a change in this way – namely: the use of Codicils makes it harder for anyone to understand your Will because they have to look at two (or possibly more) documents to get the whole story. They are confusing to read and cumbersome to deal with. The better approach is to contain all of your legal instructions in one document. For this reason, we do not use Codicils and instead prefer to simply create a whole new Will that contains the change that was requested.
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/