Hello fellow Canadians! I'm a lawyer and the proud founder of Willfinity, an online platform designed to make the will-writing process seamless, accessible, and affordable for Canadians. Over the years, I've come to realise that many of us often avoid addressing the topic of wills because of its perceived complexity or the assumption that it requires a deep wallet. I created Willfinity to change this narrative and provide a solution to Canadians with straightforward estate planning needs.
However, it's crucial to recognize that every individual's situation is unique. Sometimes, an online platform might be all you need. At other times, a more hands-on legal touch may be necessary. This article aims to shed light on various situations and help you decide whether Willfinity is the right choice for you.
Understanding Willfinity's Scope
Before we delve into specifics, it's important to clarify two primary reasons you might consider alternatives to Willfinity:
- Our platform might not support a particular feature or aspect you need for your will.
- Your specific situation has tax or legal implications that might require more specialised tax or legal advice.
With that foundation, let's explore various scenarios and understand where Willfinity fits in.
Scenarios with Tax Implications
1. Appointing an Executor Outside of Canada
If you're considering appointing an executor who resides outside Canada, tread with caution. When you pass away, your estate's residence is determined by your place of death. So, if you bid adieu in beautiful British Columbia, that's where your estate will call home. However, appointing an executor outside our borders changes the estate's residence to their location.
This shift can have significant tax ramifications. For instance, countries like the U.S. or the UK have very different rules and taxes related to estate settlement compared to Canada. So, while you can appoint an international executor using Willfinity, I'd strongly recommend consulting a tax specialist first to understand the implications.
2. Owning Property Outside of Canada
Do you own a cottage in the U.S. or perhaps a flat in London? If you have foreign property, and you wish to draft a will for that specific location in addition to your Canadian will, things can get a tad complicated. While your Canadian assets and wishes can be addressed with Willfinity, for foreign property, it might be wise to consult an estate lawyer both in Canada and in the respective country.
3. Operating a Business
Canadian entrepreneurs, this one's for you. If you own a business and are thinking about creating a dual will to separate your business assets for tax purposes, Willfinity can cover your business assets. However, for the nuanced details of a dual will, I'd suggest roping in an estate lawyer.
4. Blended Families and Spousal Trusts
Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. If you're part of a blended family and want to ensure your spouse can't exclude your children from the will, you're probably considering a spousal trust. Such trusts require specialised language and understanding. While Willfinity is perfect for many family situations, in this case, consulting an estate lawyer would be a prudent choice.
Other Unique Situations
1. Handling Disabilities and Henson Trusts
If you have a child or dependent with a disability, you might be considering setting up a Henson trust. This ensures that they continue to receive government benefits while also benefiting from their inheritance. Drafting a Henson trust requires expertise. So, even though Willfinity offers comprehensive solutions for many needs, this one necessitates an estate lawyer.
2. Navigating Separation without Divorce
Separation without a formal divorce and without a clear separation agreement can muddle inheritance matters. If you're in this boat and don't have an agreement specifying that your former partner isn't entitled to any assets upon your passing, a family lawyer can guide you through the process.
3. Deliberately Disinheriting Someone
Deciding to disinherit someone, especially a close family member like a spouse or child, is a significant decision with legal ramifications. Such decisions must be worded carefully to be legally binding and to avoid potential disputes. While Willfinity can help with many aspects of will-writing, this situation might be best addressed with an estate lawyer.
A Quick Recap and the Bottom Line
Let's summarise the primary takeaways:
- If you're appointing an executor outside of Canada, consult a tax specialist.
- For foreign property and dual wills for business owners, an estate lawyer's expertise is beneficial.
- Blended families considering spousal trusts, those setting up Henson trusts, navigating separations, or deliberating disinheritance, should also seek an estate lawyer's counsel.
In closing, my goal in founding Willfinity was to make will-writing more approachable for Canadians. While our platform is perfect for many, it's essential to recognize when a more tailored approach is necessary. Whatever path you choose, remember that having a will is crucial. It's your voice, your wishes, and your legacy. Whether you use Willfinity or opt for a traditional legal route, I urge you not to delay this essential task. Your future self (and your loved ones) will thank you.
Stay safe and take care!