What is a will and what happens if I die without making one?

4. Get legal help

It's possible to make a will yourself. But it's usually a good idea to talk to an estates lawyer before making one. A lawyer can make sure you follow all the rules for making a will and help you make an plan than meets your needs.

For example, a lawyer can tell you how to reduce probate fees, if there are any dependants you should include in your will, and what happens if a beneficiary dies before you do.

If you have a low income, you may be able to get help from the Wills Clinic at The 519  or the Queen’s University Elder Law Clinic. You can also call your local community legal clinic to see if they help with wills. If you have a simple estate, there are services such as Axess Law, that offer legal services at lower rates.

See here for a list of legal clinics that help with wills and Powers of Attorney.

If you have a large or complicated estate, it might be a good idea to talk to a financial advisor as well an estates lawyer.

Estate plan

Making a will is only one part of an estate plan. Estate planning also includes things like:

  • Reducing estate administration tax, often called probate fees, for example by making beneficiary designations and holding property jointly.
  • Having a power of attorney for property to make decisions about your property if you become .
  • Having a power of attorney for personal care to make personal care decisions if you become .
  • Creating trusts to put conditions on how and when certain will be distributed when you die.
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