Planning Wills and Trusts: The Do's and Don'ts

You may already know the importance of creating an estate plan for your family and loved ones. So why have you not crafted yours yet? If you are like most, the thought of sitting down by yourself or with an attorney to create a legal document explaining how you want your affairs handled after your death fills you with dread. So you put it off, convinced that you will get to it at some point. And then, the unexpected happens. 

Do not let this all-too-common situation happen to you. Creating an estate plan centered on a will or a trust does not have to be an onerous burden. Turn to the assistance of a skilled solicitor from Lazarus to not just craft a legal document, but to protect your legacy and provide for your loved ones in the event of the unexpected. 

Whether you own but a few assets or you are a snowbird with properties in Canada and the United States, the Lazarus team is well-equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to protect your loved ones from unanticipated tax and legal issues and safeguard what you have spent your lifetime building. 

Sobering Statistics About Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning 

Crafting a will, trust, or estate plan is a must even if you only have a few assets. Not many Canadians realize this, though. According to RBC Wealth Management, less than half of Canadians have a will and even fewer – about 30 percent – have a comprehensive estate plan. 

Not only this, but Canadians of all ages can benefit from having an up-to-date will or estate plan in place. Unfortunately, the younger people are, the less important estate planning seems. According to a recent survey

  • 80 percent of Canadians under the age of 35 do not have a will 
  • 69 percent of Canadians between the ages of 35 and 44 do not have a will 
  • 49 percent of Canadians between 45 and 54 do not have a will 
  • 34 percent of Canadians between the ages of 55 and 64 do not have a will 

Adding to people’s reluctance to craft a personalized estate plan is the fact that the requirements for valid wills can vary from province to province and territory to territory. If you own property in the United States, the laws applicable to an estate plan in the state in which your property is located are different still. 

And yet, when you do not create an estate plan you leave your assets and your family vulnerable to creditors’ claims, taxes, and the whims and wishes of whoever is appointed to administer your estate. Likewise, any minor children you may have at the time of your death may be put under the guardianship of someone of whom you do not approve if you do not have a will or estate plan. 

The First “Do”: Do Create an Estate Plan with the Help of an Experienced Solicitor 

There is no shortage of websites and apps that will provide you with the template of a will or other estate planning document to complete. While creating your estate plan this way is doable, it falls on you to know the specific requirements your will, trust, or other document must meet to be enforceable in your province or state. If your document does not meet these local requirements, all your hard work will be for naught. 

A notary takes the guesswork out of estate planning. You know that your will, trust, protective mandate, or other document will be enforceable in Quebec or wherever you may need it. Moreover, a solicitor knows the questions to ask to fully understand your circumstances and provide you with the documents to best achieve your estate planning goals. 

The Second “Do”: Do Explore All the Estate Planning Possibilities 

A will directs a court and your estate’s administrator on how you want your affairs concluded and your property distributed upon your death. However, the creation of a will is only one of the possibilities for your estate plan. Your situation may call for: 


A trust can help you manage and dispense your assets for your care and that of your loved ones, both while you are alive and after death. There are other benefits to setting up a trust, even if you are of modest means. A trust can protect your heirs and loved ones from certain contentious court proceedings and the effects of estate taxes. 

Last Will and Testament 

To effectively carry out your final wishes, your will needs to be enforceable and meet the requirements of those jurisdictions where you have property. Unfortunately, these can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and country to country. A notary with experience can draft a will that meets your needs. 

Protective Mandate 

No estate plan is complete without a protective mandate, a document that gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This document can be essential for receiving the medical care you need and carrying out crucial financial transactions if you are not able to act for yourself. 

If you have children, you will also want documents that appoint a guardian for your kids in the event you pass away suddenly or are not able to care for them. 

“Don’t” Put Off Creating an Estate Plan Any Longer 

The possible consequences of not having an estate plan in place when you die are even more dire if you have a substantial amount of assets or assets spread out among multiple jurisdictions. Once you are incapacitated or pass away, it is too late to visit a notary to craft your will or trust. You must take action today. 

The Lazarus team is committed to making the estate planning process easy and efficient. Give yourself and your family the peace of mind with a personalized and up-to-date estate plan from one of the notaries at Lazarus.