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To reinforce the necessity and caution to obtain a legal consultation before completing or re-doing a Will, just look at some of the many reasons when legal advice is specifically required because of the complex legal issues and options involved. By not dealing with these issues you could create a legal and financial nightmare on your death, when these problems could so easily be avoided. You could end up having people you do not want to benefit from your estate being beneficiaries, and others who you want to benefit being disinherited. There are many risks of a “do-it-yourself” Will. You should consult a lawyer when:

you are separated from your spouse but not divorced

you are divorced and want to re-marry

you are divorced and paying for the support of your former spouse and children

you are living common-law, will be entering a common-law relationship, or leaving an existing one

you are in a blended family relationship, with children of each spouse from previous relationships

you have children from a previous relationship and an existing one

you own your own business or part-own a business with other partners

your estate is large and you need assistance with estate planning long before your death to reduce or eliminate taxes on your death.

you have a history of emotional or mental problems such that someone could attack the validity of your Will on the basis that you did not know what you were doing when you signed the Will, or were not capable of understanding the financial matters covered in the Will

you want to have objective, unbiased and professional advice rather than making choices in a vacuum or possibly being in an environment where you could be influenced by others who have a vested interest in the contents of the Will, or if you feel under duress or pressure from relatives or family members when preparing your Will

you want to live in the U.S. or elsewhere for extended periods of time, for example retire and travel south in the winter months. The issue of your technical domicile, or permanent residence at the time of your death has legal and tax implications in terms of your Will.

you own or plan to own foreign real estate in the U.S. or elsewhere

you have a Will which was signed outside Canada or plan to do so

you want to forgive certain people for debts they owe you, or make special arrangements for the repaying of debts or mortgages to your estate should you die before the debt or mortgage is paid back to you

you want certain events to occur which are complicated and have to be carefully worded, such as having a spouse or friend have a certain income or use of a home until they re-marry or die and at that time the balance of money or house goes to someone else

you want to set up a trust arrangement to cover various possibilities.

you want to make special arrangements to care for someone who is incapable of looking after themselves, or have shown themselves unable to apply sound financial or other relevant judgement. For example a child, an immature adolescent, a gambler, an alcoholic, a prodigal child, a spendthrift, or someone who has emotional, physical or mental disabilities or limitations or who is ill.

you wish to disinherit a spouse, relative, or child for a variety of reasons, in other words, not leave them anything. You may prefer to give the majority of your estate to charitable causes that interest you.

you wish to appoint a guardian to look after your children in case you and your spouse die together

you have several children and you want to provide the opportunity for one specific child to buy, have an option to buy, or receive in the Will the house, business, farm or a specific possession or asset of your estate, and want to set up the appropriate procedures and wording to enable your wishes to occur.

As you can see, when viewing your own situation at this point or where you project your circumstances might be in the near future, there could be many different reasons to consult with a legal expert on the topic of Wills.

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