Frequently Asked Questions about Wills and Power of Attorney
At Meredith Bateman Law in Riverview, we have received many questions from our clients regarding wills and powers of attorney. We have done our best to answer these on this page. If you require more information, please give us a call.
Why Do I Need a Will?
After a person’s death, many issues have to be dealt with, including burial and or memorial services and making decisions about your personal belongings. Financial issues may include ensuring the income taxes for your estate are completed, dealing with your debts, closing your bank accounts and dealing with any property, insurance or investments that may exist. Finally, if there are children under 19 or older children that may be dependent because of post-secondary education attendance or mental or physical health issues, their well-being must be looked after. In the Province of New Brunswick, when a person dies without a will, his or her estate must be distributed in accordance with the Devolution of Estates Act. Under this act, your estate is distributed in a way that you may not have intended or wanted.
If you die without a will, then it will potentially cost your family unexpected legal fees, time and aggravation to sort out your affairs. If you have not spoken to close family members about your wishes, it may cause heartache and arguments between them in having to deal with these issues without any idea what it is you would have preferred.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Prepare My Will?
You do not need a lawyer to prepare a will, but if you prepare it yourself there may be problems later on after you die.
Writing your own will, even with a purchased kit, is likely only to benefit the lawyers arguing over its interpretation after your death. By having a lawyer prepare your will you can make sure that it is properly prepared and less likely to be heavily contested following your death.
How Much Does It Cost for a Lawyer to Prepare My Will?
The usual fee at Meredith Bateman Law for a simple will for one person is $450.00 (plus HST). For a couple with mirror wills, the fee is $675.00 (plus HST).
How Much Time Does It Take to Prepare a Will?
Usually we meet with you twice – first to take your instructions, and second meeting one to three weeks later to sign the document.
How Do I Get Ready
We will help you fit your personal situation into a will that is logical and easy to understand. At the first meeting, we will review with you:
• What do you own? (house, cottage, bank accounts, pensions, investments, etc.)
• Who are your beneficiaries? (often a spouse, then children if you and your spouse have both died, but there are multiple choices and variations available or possible)
• Who will administer the estate? (usually a spouse, adult child, other family member or long-time friend)
• Who will look after my children?
• How will my children be provided for?
Who Is an Executor (or Executrix)?
The executor is the person who administers or supervises your estate, pays your bills and ensures things are dealt with as you have set out in your will, sometimes including the distribution of money over time to people who were not yet adults at the time of your death. It should be someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend, and someone who agrees to take on this responsibility.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
By signing a power of attorney, you authorize someone else to act as your agent, either for your convenience or in the case of your absence or disability. The “attorney” is the person that you choose to handle your affairs. A power of attorney can be for personal care or for a property. The most common power of attorney we draft covers both financial and medical decisions. You can have the same people appointed to look after your finances and to make medical decisions for you or have two separate sets of people appointed for each role.
Why Is a Power of Attorney Important?
Without a power of attorney, it is not clear who should make decisions about your health or your property if you become incapacitated or unavailable, such as being in a coma in the hospital or out of the country for a length of time. If you become unable to manage your own affairs as a result of an accident or illness and do not have a power of attorney, your family will have the added expense of making a lengthy and expensive application to the court in order to have a committee named to manage your affairs. The court will then name someone to manage your affairs, though this will not necessarily be the person you would have chosen and the expense of having to obtain order will cause unnecessary stress to your family, fights you would not want to have happened and huge legal expenses, even if everyone agrees.
Who Prepares a Power of Attorney?
Your lawyer prepares a power of attorney. We strongly recommend that you have a lawyer draft such important documents and not rely on a prepackaged kit for sale or free that you may find online or at an office supply store. While you may think you will save a few doillars in doing so, this will not be the case.
Under the current legislation recently passed in New Brunswick your Power of Attorney must be notarized. In the Province of New Brunswick, Lawyers are Notary Publics
Keep in mind that every province has it's own legislation dealing with Wills and Powers of Attorney and they differ in each province. An online Power of Attorney or using one from a relative who had one done in another Province is simply not a good idea. These are very imprtant documents that everyone should have, that will impact you and your family directly and they need to be properly drafted.
How Much Does It Cost for a Power of Attorney?
Meredith Bateman Law office charges $450.00 (plus HST) for an individual power of attorney. If you do your will and power of attorney at the same time, your total cost would be $825.00 plus HST for both documents. If you and your spouse decide to each do your wills and each do a power of attorney, your total cost would be $1500.00 plus HST.