Do you have a valid and up-to-date Will? If not, now is the best time to get your affairs in order. Without a Will, you risk leaving behind a mess: your estate may not be administered in a timely fashion or by someone you would have selected, your property may not be distributed to beneficiaries you selected (and perhaps not in the most tax advantageous manner), and you may not like who ends up being responsible for your minor children. So let’s talk about Wills, shall we?
1. What is a Will?
It’s not a contract. It’s not something that can bind your spouse. It’s an expression of your final wishes concerning your property and financial affairs when you die. It lets you name someone to be responsible for administering your estate. It allows you to make specific gifts of cash, real estate, and personal property to particular individuals. And it lets you name someone to be responsible for your minor children.
2. What if I don’t have a Will?
If you’re a dentist and you have a practice and you pass away without a Will, you are said to have died “intestate”. This is a problem. Most likely, a locum will need to enter the scene. This does not generally bode well for the team (i.e. staff and associates) or the patients. They need certainty and continuity. They want to see a new dentist enter. And they may abandon ship if it takes too long for the practice to be sold. What could cause the delay you ask? Well, if there is no Will, someone will need to apply to court to be the Administrator of the Estate (without a Will). This could take some time as there may be infighting, delays, and problems with all of the paperwork (trust me, it’s a lot of paperwork). Finally, the Administrator may need to get all of the beneficiaries onside to sell the practice. The longer this takes, the more likely that the goodwill of the practice will start to drop (along with the overall purchase price).
3. What information do I need to complete my Will?
If you are a dentist, you can create your Will online NOW using your smartphone (e.g. blackberry, iphone, android phone, etc.). Just go to www.DentistLegalForms.com and use the Will-O-Matic wizard to create your Wills. It takes between 30-60 minutes to create a Will. What kinds of questions will the software ask you? Things like: personal information (e.g. your name, age, city, etc.), who you want to name as your Estate Trustee (the person responsible for administering your estate), what specific gifts you want to make (e.g. cash, real estate, charitable, personal property, etc.), what is to happen with your leftover assets after specific gifts have been made, what age you want your children to receive their inheritance, and a lot more. You can go through the entire questionnaire and see a partial preview of your Will right now, so what are you waiting for?
4. What do I do when I’m done my Will?
After going through the questionnaire, you’ll be able to purchase your Will online. From here, you need to read the detailed signing instructions at the back of the Will. It will tell you how to sign and have your witnesses sign, where to keep your Will, and what kinds of other documents you need to complete your estate (e.g. Powers of Attorney and Personal Information, Assets and Liabilities checklist). Make sure that your Estate Trustee knows where your Will is and has access to it. You should also update your Will every few years and when you experience a significant change in your life (e.g. birth, death, divorce, inheritance, new job, new property, etc.). You should also update your Will before you travel or go in for surgery.
If you want to talk Wills (how to get them done in a cost-effective, convenient, and easy-to-understand manner), then go to DentistLegalForms.com now. After you’re done, you can have DMC LLP review everything for you.
In 2015, if you haven’t done so already, you should get your legal affairs in order. The first and easiest thing to do in this regard is to get your Will(s) and Powers of Attorney done using our online automated software on www.DentistLegalForms.com. The benefits to having an up to date written Will include:
With a power of attorney for Property / Personal Care, you can:
You should have these essential documents in place and they should be updated every few years – particularly when:
Do yourself a favour in 2015 and contact us about getting these essential documents in place! You’ll feel peace of mind after you’re done! It’s a pain-free process. You simply go online, fill out the online questionnaires, and then bring your documents to us to review / finalize. All of our online products come with free lawyer review by DMC LLP. Plus, you can read an eBook about Wills in Ontario. And you can edit for free for 1 year.
So what are you waiting for? Time to get it done!
When we present to study clubs (as we just did last week), we often ask dentists to identify 5 good reasons why they need to have a Will (and perhaps even a corporate / non-corporate Will if you have a professional corporation). They invariably say things like: so the government doesn’t get my stuff, to save taxes, to exclude the black sheep from getting anything, and to make specific gifts to specific people. I wanted to shed some light on these and other issues, as there is often lots of confusion around them.
1. So the Government Doesn’t Get My Stuff
If you don’t have a Will or if you have a Will but all your beneficiaries are unable / unwilling to receive their inheritance, then there is a legislative order of individuals who receive all or some of your estate. Just check out Myth #1 in this article I previously wrote in Ontario Dentist magazine. Only if all these individuals (e.g. spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, nephews / nieces, etc.) are unable / unwilling to receive their inheritance will the government get it. This is pretty rare.
2. Save Taxes
When you die, your Estate Trustee may be required to submit your Will to probate to prove that they have the legal authority to deal with your property and administer your estate. As part of the probate process (now called “getting a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee With a Will”), an ESTATE ADMINISTRATION TAX (about $14,500 on the first $1-million) is required to be paid. By having a corporate Will and a non-corporate Will, you can actually have your estate avoid paying those taxes on the value of your corporation’s shares. You can read more about this in Myth #6 in this previously mentioned article. Keep in mind that there are various ways in which your estate can pay less INCOME taxes – such as by transferring property to your spouse or dependant children or dependant grandchildren through your Will or taking advantage of the lifetime capital gains exemption on the sale of shares of a small business corporation. You are assumed to have sold off all of your assets on the date of your death.
3. Exclude the Black Sheep of the Family
You may want to give your spouse nothing in your Will. But you need to remember that, under family law (which trumps Wills and estates laws), your spouse can elect to receive what they are entitled to under the Will (i.e. nothing) or what they would be entitled to under family law (which, absent a marriage contract or prenup agreement, is 1/2 of the increase in net worth of the couple during the course of their marriage). Also, if you had a legal obligation to support a dependant at the time of your death and your Will did not provide for their adequate maintenance and support, then they can challenge your Will and receive an inheritance from your estate through the courts (by applying under section 58 of the Succession Law Reform Act).
4. Naming Someone to Care For Your Minor Children
You can name someone to be the custodian for your minor children and guardian of their property in your Will. This person can act in those capacities for up to 90 days after you pass away, but will need to apply to the court for that formal recognition. While someone other than that person may also attempt to apply for that position, the courts will generally look at what is in the best interests of the minor child and give consideration to your final wishes in your Will.
5. Make Specific Gifts
That’s right: without a Will, you CANNOT make specific gifts of property to specific individuals or organizations (like a Charity). Your estate simply gets divided as per the legislative breakdown discussed in point #1 above. This means that your property may not go to the person(s) you wished to receive them.
Bottom line: you need a Will now. You need one before you travel, go in for surgery, or after you experience a significant change in your family or financial situation. If you’d like to get started creating your Will, just go to www.DentistLegalForms.com, click on the Will-O-Matic and get started. You can create your legal Will(s) now and we will review them for FREE. This method allows you to save big bucks by doing some of the input yourself.
I’m pleased to announce that Laura Fava (counsel to DMC LLP) and I have co-authored an article to be published in Ontario Dentist this December entitled “6 Steps to Administering an Estate“. As usual, we will post a version of it on this website once it becomes available. The article breaks down and simplifies the process that an Estate Trustee must take in order to properly administer a Will. It’s a long and difficult process with lots of pitfalls; this article is a must-read for dentists!
And if you are a Dentist who DOES NOT HAVE a Will, then you need to go to www.DentistLegalForms.com RIGHT NOW and create a Will or TWO WILLS (a corporate and non-corporate Will). And don’t forget to create your Powers of Attorney afterwards!
Dentists: hold onto your socks! You can now make your own custom-tailored .pdf Wills using our online software on Dentist Legal Forms! Sha-Zam! Did you know that roughly 50% of Canadians don’t have a valid and up-to-date Will? So, by extrapolation, that means that 50% of Ontario dentists might not have their legal affairs in order? Well, now they can get their Will or Wills (if they have a professional corporation) in order with the Will-O-Matic Wizard.
So what’s the big deal with this new software?
Well, first and foremost, EVERY DENTIST IN ONTARIO needs to have a Will or a Primary / Corporate Will and a Secondary / Non-Corporate Will. No excuses. No delays. No ifs, ands, or buts.
A Will outlines your final wishes concerning who you want to be responsible for administering your estate when you pass away, who you want to be responsible for your minor children, and how you want your assets to be transferred / divided.
The best part is that you can save big bucks on estate administration taxes by having multiple Wills.
Without a valid and up-to-date Will, you leave it up to your family members to apply to court and ask a judge to determine who should be administering your estate and taking care of your minor children. Why leave it to chance when you can express your wishes right now, save money, and let your loved ones avoid future headaches.
And with our software, you can create your own custom-tailored .pdf Will from the comfort of your home or office. The online questionnaire can be completed in minutes. And all you need is a credit card to pay for it. Your information is stored safely and securely on our website and daily backups are made (to avert disaster).
Here’s the best part: we include LOTS OF FREE BONUSES!
Bonus #1: Lawyer Review from DMC LLP
That’s right… After you’re completed your Will or Wills let us know (call or email) and we can review it for you and even act as your witnesses and provide you with commissioned affidavits. All for no additional cost.
Bonus #2: FREE Edits for 1 year!
If you make a mistake or need to update anything, guess what: you can go back and update your Will for FREE for the first year.
Bonus #3: FREE Signing Instructions
If you want to avoid disputes about your Will, make sure you enter into it properly.
Finally, you can arrange to have us (DMC LLP) hold onto your Will or Wills for a nominal annual fee. This service includes free updates / edits for as long as we hold onto your Will.
Bonus #4: FREE eBook about Wills
Have questions about Wills? Once you get started creating your own Will, you can download a comprehensive and easy-to-read eBook we’ve written about Wills in Ontario. A definite must-have!
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or email@example.com.
Michael Carabash is your business law adviser. He is an entrepreneur at heart who helps you see the big legal picture. He drafts clear and effective agreements that protect your rights while promoting your interests. He can be reached at 647.680.9530. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ljubica Durlovska is your transition lawyer. She helps you with staff and associates, maintaining your corporation, and other business matters. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 206 or email@example.com.
Jonathan Borrelli is your employment lawyer. He helps you with staff and associates matters, including hirings, terminations, switching staff to written contracts and resolving disputes. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benjamin Kong is an experienced business law clerk. He assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 207 or email@example.com.
Julie Whitehouse is an experienced business law clerk. She assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David, Michael, Ljubica, Jonathan, Ben and Julie are a truly dynamic team. Their diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences will help you get the best deal possible while promoting your interests and protecting your rights. You can read dentist testimonials here.