Estate Planning in Ontario

Speak to a lawyer to draft your Will from the comfort of your home. We bring legal expertise to you in the most convenient and affordable way.

Why Should I Make an Estate Plan?

Estate Planning involves setting up a plan that establishes who will eventually receive your assets. It also makes known how you want your affairs to be handled in the event you are unable to handle them on your own for any reason. Making an estate plan before you die makes good sense. Managing what happens to your money and real property after you pass on can determine how your next-of-kin fare.

If you have:

  • a disabled child
    young children at home
  • a spouse or common-law partner who lacks money management skills
  • a small business to pass on
  • a matrimonial home(s)
  • real estate investments
  • or complex financial investments
  • make estate planning a priority.

Even if your estate is modest, you owe it to your family and beneficiaries to plan ahead.

How It Works

01

Book Your Appointment

Click on ‘Get Started’ button to submit a request to meet with the Lawyer. Our customer care team will reach out to you within minutes to book your appointment. 

02

Submit Your Documents

On the day of your appointment, our lawyer will verify your identification and walk you through the intake process where they confirm your contact information.

03

Draft Your Will With A Lawyer

Our lawyer will ask you a series of questions regarding your executor, beneficiaries, and make a note of your wishes before drafting a Will accordingly.

04

Execute Your Will With A Lawyer

Our lawyer will cross-check each page of the Will with you and if you are happy with the draft, the Will is signed and executed by the lawyer on the same day.

Documents We Need

We offer a number of affordable options to give you peace of mind in knowing that your family will be taken care of the way you want. Bring the following for your online video conference (anywhere in Ontario) or in-person meeting at our Greater Toronto Area law offices:

Axess Law will ask you for two pieces of ID. Proving your identity is obligatory to prevent fraud. You may use either two pieces of primary ID or one primary and one secondary ID. These include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Canadian passport
  • Ontario photo card
  • Canadian citizenship card with photo
  • PR card with photo
Our lawyers will ask to see records of any existing debts that you may have. These would include debts such as car loans, mortgages, or student loans.
When drafting a cohabitation agreement, bring us your personal statement of assets. This would include documents such as stocks, investments, or real estate deeds.
When booking an appointment, our team will make a note of your contact information. This would include your name, email address, and telephone number.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning arranges assets, charitable gifts, and business interests in ways you want, for people or causes you care about the most. Estate planning lawyers help you plan ahead to make the most of personal or family assets, preserving, managing, and distributing your estate after your death. Our experienced estate law attorneys prepare personal Wills, organize financial and personal papers, plan for minor children, dependents or if you are mentally incapacitated, and designate estate trustees.

Dying Without a Will in Ontario

Many Ontarians have no Will when they die. Dying intestate without a Will delays how long it takes your estate to be distributed. If no estate trustee steps forward, Ontario courts may appoint a legal representative for you. Your estate could be distributed in ways you never intended or beneficiaries left without the resources they need to manage once you are gone.

When you die without a Will in Ontario:

  • legally married spouses may get most of your estate
  • separated spouses may inherit automatically, even if it’s not your last wish
  • common law partners may file dependant support claims in court
  • other next-of-kin could be left out completely.

Creating basic estate planning documents gives you and your loved ones peace of mind. Axess Law estate lawyers advise you on distributing assets after death to reduce, eliminate or postpone probate and capital taxes and give your family the quality of life they deserve.

Your Estate Planning Checklist

When you meet with an Axess Law Wills and estate lawyer, we find the best ways to plan your estate. Here’s what you want to discuss at your appointment:

A list of estate trustees, executors or personal representatives
Your Will, any amendments, and power of attorney documents.
Investment records and RRSP, RRIF, pension or bank statements
A list of potential guardian appointments

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Convenient Appointments

Axess Law gives you the choice of booking an online or in-person appointment. Our lawyers are available 7 days a week, at times convenient for you. We can meet in person, by phone, email, or via a remote video call. In addition to these, there are 5 Axess Law offices located across the Greater Toronto Area – all with onsite parking or easily accessible by public transit.

Some FAQs

When you meet with an Axess Law Wills and estate lawyer, we find the best ways to plan your estate. Things to keep in mind:

  • Estate Trustee(s), Executors or Personal Representatives

Your most trusted advisor is who you choose to distribute your estate after death. Axess Law arranges appointments of estate trustees, executors or personal representatives (single or multiple, as you prefer), and substitutes who can take over if they resign or predecease you. Bring contact information for the advisors you want to represent you.

  • Wills and Power of Attorney

Your Will, any amendments (sometimes called codicils), and power of attorney documents. Axess Law has Wills and estates lawyers nearby who can draft a personal Will or amend it if you marry, separate, divorce, have children, or assets change significantly. Our personal Wills start at just $199.99 or $249.99 if you also make a power of attorney for personal care or property.

  • Guardian Appointments

Children under 18, aging parents, or adult dependents can all have guardians appointed to protect them and their property upon your death. Axess Law’s Ontario estate planning attorneys prepare the legal documents you need to appoint guardians.

  • Investments, Pensions, and Survivor Benefits

Investment records and RRSP, RRIF, pension, or bank statements help Axess Law’s estate planning lawyers determine who benefits when you die. Cash and financial assets may be left to your estate, triggering probate taxes, or left tax free to beneficiaries.

  • Life Insurance Policies

Naming beneficiaries instead of your estate on life insurance policies bypasses probate taxes. When next-of-kin are estate trustees, they can use life insurance proceeds for immediate expenses like funeral services, probate taxes, property taxes, or buying RRSPs or annuities for future retirement.

  • Real Property Titles

Legally married spouses have a right of survivorship to matrimonial homes, without having to go to court. Structuring titles to your property to include spouses makes it easy.

  • Funeral Plans

Planning and paying for funeral arrangements in advance can save your estate trustee and next-of-kin from making stressful decisions at an emotional time. Purchasing a burial plot or columbarium space, headstone or funeral services, or including your wishes in your Will are part of a complete estate plan we prepare with you.

  • Charitable Gifts

Making charitable gifts to an alma mater or favourite cause leaves a lasting legacy. Gifts to qualified charitable and non-profit organizations can be part of long-term estate tax planning with Axess Law.

You can make your estate worth more to beneficiaries by using strategies that reduce taxes and preserve assets. Axess Law Toronto area estate planning attorneys can advise you on structuring your estate to make the most of it.

1. Limiting Estate Taxes
Giving your children assets while you’re alive passes tax liabilities along to them, instead of your estate. Your estate pays less taxes when you die, leaving more for beneficiaries to enjoy. The value of assets like cash or real estate is frozen on the transfer date, leaving you better able to calculate probate taxes, and avoid capital gains taxes. Your beneficiaries only pay taxes if assets go up in value in future.

2. Gifting Cash
Gifting cash to children to buy a home or succeed in business reduces probate taxes and gives you the pleasure of watching your children reap the rewards.

3. Gifting Securities and Shares
Gifts of securities or shares in a family business when you have tax losses reduces potential tax liabilities. Your estate benefits when you minimize gains on “deemed dispositions” of assets that attract capital gains tax or take advantage of unused capital losses.

4. Creating Ontario Family Trusts
Trusts freeze the value of assets for tax purposes and give you control over your own assets. By appointing yourself trustee, you determine where assets go, not your estate trustee. Unlike testamentary trusts (assets in your will that go to heirs), living trusts, or inter vivos trusts transfer assets during your lifetime. Because trust assets aren’t part of your estate, you avoid probate taxes. Your beneficiaries can defer capital gains taxes until they dispose of the assets themselves or their own estate is distributed.

Axess Law shows you how to create single or multiple personal Wills to keep your assets and family safe.

1. List Assets for Your Will

  • Make a list of financial assets – bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, GICs.
  • Add real estate – your matrimonial home, cottage, condo, or waterfront lot.
  • Include electronics – TVs, computers, mobile devices, appliances, power tools or yard equipment.
  • Inventory collectibles – antiques, art, rare books, or heirloom jewelry.
  • Decide what clothes or jewelery to bequeath to others.
  • Catalogue items to donate or dispose of.
  • Itemize benefits loved ones will receive when you die – life insurance, disability, or health insurance, auto accident insurance, survivor’s pensions. Remember to list organizations you belong to in case they offer life insurance, or disability benefits.
  • Record passwords for social media accounts and leave instructions to allow your next-of-kin to access them.

2. Organize Your Debts

Your estate trustee will notify creditors and pay debts after you die. We encourage you to record mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit, vehicle loans, credit cards, lines of credit and promissory notes. Asking Equifax for a free credit report can capture anything you overlooked.

3. Make a Contact List

Who will your estate trustee contact when you die? Include your bank branch, investment brokers, insurance representatives, former employers, Canada Pension Plan, condo strata manager, and anyone who holds or manages assets for you.

4. Name Benefactors and Charities

Inform your executor of benefactors and charities you would like possessions or estate gifts to go to. Your estate trustee will use this contact information to distribute your estate according to your wishes.

5. Write Multiple Wills for Complex Estates

Complex estates require careful planning. Making multiple Wills separates personal and business assets. Axess Law’s Wills professionals ensure your Ontario Will is legally valid, reducing the chances it will be successfully challenged in court after you’re gone.

At Axess Law, we make individual Wills for married or common law couples. Having separate Wills gives you and your spouse more flexibility. You can make joint appointments to update a personal Will or, if you are new to Axess Law, have us make changes without your spouse’s involvement. A reminder that comingling assets with spouses or common-law partners through joint bank accounts or co-signed mortgage loans makes it difficult to divide property if you separate or divorce. You may have to prove you are the sole owner of a gift your family meant only for you or calculate appreciation on assets you owned before you became a couple.

When you appoint an estate trustee, they handle arrangements like applying for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) $2,500 death benefit that relieves the burden on loved ones. Your dependents may qualify for survivor’s benefits from CPP for married spouses or common law partners and minors up to 18 (25 for full-time students). Low-income spouses or partners 60 to 64 can apply for the Old Age Security survivor allowance. Your estate trustee can advise your dependents on how to apply or apply on their behalf. Your Will must provide for spouses and minor or dependant children and parents after you die. Anyone you supported or had a legal obligation to support immediately before your death can petition your estate or the court for financial support if they are left out. Our estate planning attorneys can counsel you on how to structure Wills to meet mandatory support obligations.

Your estate may qualify for government assistance with basic funeral expenses or other benefits and waiver of estate administration taxes. Unless you have a Will, your next-of-kin may have to appear in court to claim benefits that are rightfully theirs. Worse yet, without a Will, government legislation will determine how your assets are distributed. You may not agree with their decisions, but your next-of-kin will have no choice but to accept it. If you have no surviving relatives at all, the government may take your estate, robbing you of the chance to leave it to favourite charities.
Your estate trustee must distribute your Will exactly as written in your original Will or any amendments you made to a Last Will and testament. Only a court order can overturn your final instructions. You can rest easy knowing most judges are reluctant to overturn personal Wills without substantial evidence a Will is fraudulent or you lacked the mental capacity to understand it.
Axess Will can store your final Will for a one-time payment of $29.99 plus HST per Will. Or you can date, sign, and make copies to leave with spouses, partners, trusted next-of-kin or friend, and your estate trustee. Alternatively, we recommend storing the original in a safety deposit box for safekeeping and giving the location and key to your estate trustee. Depending on their size, safety deposit boxes cost between $50 and $400 a year. For extra security, Wills can also be filed with an Ontario court for a one-time fee of $20.

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