Two things cause us and our loved ones grief—procrastination, and yes, second-guessing.
For whatever reason, many people wait years to complete their estate plans. Most wait too long and, should they die without a will, may leave confusing paperwork for others to sort through and solve.
It may take years to settle a person’s estate if the deceased’s intentions are not clear. And sometimes a lot of heartbreak, too, for those left behind, wondering what Mom or Dad would have liked them to do with the accumulations of a lifetime. The court appoints a public guardian to resolve liabilities and distribute assets according to the government “rules and regulations.”
Unfortunately, these rules are generic and don’t take into account the wishes of the deceased. The court is unaware of the concerns and priorities of the person who has died. Consequently, final decisions may not be consistent with the ideals and wishes of the deceased. Also, no funds are distributed to charities or causes which one may have held dear during their lifetime.
In regards to “second-guessing,” consider an estate gift that Catholic Missions received this past year. A loyal and faithful steward of many years had written his will back in 1999 and named Catholic Missions In Canada along with three other charities in his will.
Upon his death, it was discovered that while in hospital, he had written notes on three different occasions adding to or changing his original will wishes. Why he did this, or even if he was in a sound state of mind, are not known.
As these handwritten notes were not witnessed properly, with some not even dated or signed, it became very difficult and cumbersome for his executors to carry out his estate wishes. It involved months of legal wrangling and court time. Needless to say, it cost the estate a lot of money to resolve these issues, money he intended to go elsewhere—and even in the end, no one is sure if his wishes were carried out.
It is important to remember that once you have had your will drawn up by a lawyer, witnessed and signed properly, no markings, handwritten or otherwise, should be made to that original document. Changes can and should be done through a simple codicil prepared by your lawyer and witnessed, signed and dated as in the case of your original will.
The whole process of finalizing probate and dealing with the loose ends of an estate can be frustrating and even difficult, especially during the period of grieving. We encourage all our supporters and friends to take care of their estate-planning responsibilities while they are able to do so. We have seen the heartache and complications when a person dies without an estate plan or a will that has been changed or altered without the proper procedures carried out.
To assist you in making a proper will, we offer a free Will Planner to help you get started. The materials will help you prepare for your meeting with your estate lawyer and may possibly save you legal fees.
Fill out a Request Information Form and use the comments section to enter your request for a free copy of our Will Planner
please contact Winnie Quinn, our Charitable Gift Planning Manager at
Toll-free: 1-866-YES-CMIC (937-2642)
or via e-mail at email@example.com
She will be glad to send you a free copy of our Will Planner, or answer any questions you may have.