Wills and Estate Lawyers

Nothing is more important than family. Protecting your family means thinking about the future and making plans to ensure their well-being after you are gone. Thinking about the division of your assets can be uncomfortable. It is not uncommon to put off estate planning, to avoid thinking about the inevitable. But in order to make sure your wishes are carried out according to your family’s best interests, it is advisable to plan for the future today.

Legal matters regarding wills and estates are often emotionally charged and deeply personal. In the event of a loved one’s passing, interpersonal conflicts between family members and other beneficiaries can arise, especially over the distribution and administration of an estate. By making thorough, legally binding decisions about your last wishes now, not only can you make sure your family will be protected financially, but you might also help protect them from turbulent conflicts after you are gone. 

At Cohen Highley LLP, our wills and estate lawyers know that nothing matters more to our clients than their families’ future security. Our team of wills and estate lawyers serving appreciate that the clients we represent are entrusting us with the most serious decisions they might ever make. We know how important it is to listen to our clients, provide clear, candid communication, and assure them that their wishes will be adhered to once they have passed. 

Our legal team has experience assisting with the following matters related to wills and estates. Please note this list is not exhaustive:

  • Probate applications
  • Designating powers of attorney
  • Directives
  • Removing an executor from a will
  • Challenging a will
  • Estate fiduciary duties
  • Passing of accounts
  • Settling the estate
  • Estate trustees
  • Identification and valuation of assets
  • Guardianship matters
  • Beneficiary matters
  • Certificate of Estate Trustees
  • Guiding executors
  • Charitable trusts
  • Investment properties and other investments
  • And more

If you are making plans for your own future or are experiencing a legal issue regarding the distribution or administration of a loved one’s estate, contact Cohen Highley LLP and schedule a consultation. 

Estate Planning

You deserve to have a say in exactly how your property is divided amongst your beneficiaries. By working with a estate lawyer to outline the creation of a valid, legally binding will, you will be able to ensure that your assets are distributed as you best see fit.

However, if you die before creating a will, your estate will be divided according to the regulations outlined in the Succession Law Reform Act. People who lose their lives before settling their affairs through the creation of a valid will are known as “intestate.” While the system for estate distribution under the Succession Law Reform Act takes a person’s close family members into account, intestate Ontarians do not have any say in exactly how their assets will be divided amongst their loved ones. Furthermore, if an intestate person does not have a next of kin, their estate will become the property of the provincial government.

In addition to finalizing your decisions about your property’s division after your death, it is also prudent to make provisions for certain unfortunate situations that might occur during your lifetime. No one anticipates the worst case scenario but planning for it could save you and your family members from discomfort and conflict. 

Designating powers of attorney for both your property and personal care is an important safeguard in the event that you become mentally incapacitated. If you are unable to communicate or carry out your wishes during your lifetime, your designated power of attorney for property will have the authority to manage your finances. Your power of attorney for personal care will be able to communicate your decisions about your living arrangements and healthcare should you be unable to voice your opinions later in life. 

The process of estate planning does not need to be a chore. Many people tend to put off this task until it is too late instead of taking the time to engage in a straightforward, communicative, and friendly interaction with an estate lawyer serving. To learn more about the simple, efficient process of creating your will, contact Cohen Highley LLP today.

Estate Administration

Being named an estate trustee (formerly known as an “executor”) comes with a great deal of responsibility. Without working knowledge of wills and estate administration, probate procedures, deadlines, and other protocols, wrapping up an estate can be a confusing and frustrating process. Additionally, estate trustees often find themselves navigating the emotions and interpersonal conflicts of various beneficiaries who may have qualms with the decisions outlined in their deceased loved one’s will.

If you were selected to be a friend or relative’s estate trustee, receiving guidance, advice, and support from an estate lawyer could help clarify the often confusing and frustrating process. To go over your situation with our wills and estate lawyers and learn how our assistance could be beneficial to you, schedule a consultation with Cohen Highley LLP by contacting us today.

Estate Litigation

Most people give the distribution of their property careful consideration. They create wills to ensure that all their beneficiaries will be treated fairly. However, oftentimes, the people they leave behind feel slighted, left out, or forgotten. People mourning the death of a close relative, beloved friend, or trusted business partner often experience heightened emotional states, which are often only exacerbated when they feel as though they have been treated unfairly.

Certain beneficiaries may feel the desire to contest a will when they believe they have not been allocated a fair portion of the inheritance they felt they were owed by the person who created the will (known as the “testator.”) However, in accordance with Ontario’s Estates Act, there are few legal grounds to contest a will. Only certain individuals have the right to do so, and only under very specific circumstances. These include:

  • The will is considered invalid because it was unsigned, or no witnesses were present at the time it was executed.
  • There is proof that the will was created under duress, undue influence, or while mentally incapable of making sound decisions.
  • Evidence exists to suggest that the will is fraudulent or has been falsified. 
  • A previously created, valid will is now void because of a subsequent marriage later in life.
  • Sudden changes to the will were made later in the testator’s life after a remarriage. 
  • And more

No matter the circumstances, estate litigation can be an emotionally charged, time consuming, and expensive process. These disputes are rarely resolved amicably and often lead to deep rifts between family members. That is why retaining the right legal representative is so crucial.

At Cohen Highley LLP, our wills and estate lawyers appreciate our clients’ needs to be heard, and to be given the opportunity they deserve to advocate for what is rightfully theirs. Our wills and estate lawyers serving do our best to find resolutions that are as efficient, inexpensive, and mutually agreeable as possible. To review your situation with our wills and estate lawyers and learn about options that might be available to you, contact Cohen Highley LLP’s local office. 

Contact Cohen Highley LLP Today

Death can be an uncomfortable subject for many people. No one wants to think about the inevitable but planning for the future is a responsible and admirable endeavour. Estate planning can be an act of love. By working with our wills and estate lawyers serving Southwestern Ontario, you can ensure that your family will be taken care of when you are gone and protect them from undue conflicts while they mourn your loss. 

Due to the sensitive and emotional nature of estate planning, administration, and litigation, it is important that you work with a wills and estate lawyer that you can trust. To discuss your needs with Cohen Highley LLP, contact our wills and estate lawyers today.

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