More and more wills are being contested in Saskatchewan each year. And the sad truth is that many challenges are avoidable if the will-maker had done one or both of the below things:
- Hired a lawyer to draft their will, and keep good notes of their instructions;
- Told the will-maker’s family of the terms of the will, before they died.
On numerous occasions I have seen situations in which a person had sought to avoid the cost of a lawyer-made will. They therefore draft their own will. When the person later passes away, the result is sometimes a confusing will, often made in secrecy and without any independent notes showing the true intention. This situation often spawns litigation, which can then drain tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees from the estate.
Thus, the first lesson is this: think carefully about perhaps hiring a lawyer to make your will. Moreover, if possible, look for a lawyer who actually specializes in wills and estates, and better knows all of the questions to ask, and situations to avoid.
Second, talk through your goals and assets with your children, and keep notes of such conversation. This is especially true if your new will is making a departure from a prior will. It is far more difficult for a child to later suggest you had dementia, or were pressured into making your will, when the child had the opportunity to talk about your will with you in person.
A will is one of the most important pieces of paper you can ever sign. It can control who is left in charge of your children, your home, and your savings. It is meant to give you peace of mind that when you pass on, your wishes will be followed. It is therefore worth putting in the time to ensure your will is done right.
James Steele’s preferred practise area is estate litigation, including will challenges, executor disputes, power of attorney issues, etc. Contact James Steele at 1-306-933-1338 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The above is for general information only. Parties should always seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations.