Epilogue launches Online Wills In Manitoba
Epilogue’s fast, simple, and affordable estate planning service is now available in Manitoba! Almost two-thirds of Canadians either don’t have a Will or have one that’s not up-to-date, and Epilogue is on a mission to change that.
Manitoba is the fifth province to gain access to Epilogue’s straightforward estate planning solution, along with Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Epilogue plans to continue its expansion across Canada throughout 2021.
Founded by two estate planning lawyers with over a decade of experience, Epilogue’s best-in-class service is designed to provide comprehensive protection for Canadians and their loved ones.
In about 20 minutes, you can create your Last Will and Testament (Will), Enduring Power of Attorney (POA), and Health Care Directive online from the comfort of your own home, and for a fraction of the cost of going through a law firm.
Here’s how it works:
Visit https://epiloguewills.com and click Get Started
Complete the questionnaire
Generate your documents
Print and sign them according to the detailed signing instructions included
Simple as that!
Do I need a lawyer to make my Will in Manitoba?
The short answer is no. You do not need a lawyer to make a Last Will and Testament in Manitoba. In Manitoba, as long as the testator (person making the Will) is at least 18 and is ‘of sound mind’, they can make a legal Will.
Having said that, there are a couple of instances where someone may need to get in touch with a lawyer to help out.
Situations where someone may want to seek legal advice
In Manitoba, an Enduring POA can only be witnessed by a legal professional so you may need to contact a lawyer when it’s time to have it signed (more on that later.)
There are also some more complicated situations where it is a good idea to get legal advice, including if:
Someone wants to exclude a spouse, child, or another dependant from their Will
Someone wants to treat their children unequally under their Will
Someone is in a second marriage/common-law relationship but has children from a prior relationship
There is a family member who is receiving government disability benefits under Manitoba’s EIA Program
Someone owns real estate outside the province that cannot be dealt with under a Manitoba Will
Someone wants to engage in sophisticated tax planning
Dying without a Will in Manitoba
When someone dies without a legal Will, it’s called dying intestate. Intestacy laws differ from province to province. According to the intestacy laws in Manitoba, a “spouse” means:
Someone the deceased was legally married to when they died;
A person who was in a conjugal relationship with and cohabited with the deceased for at least three years prior to death; or,
A person who was in a conjugal relationship with and cohabitated with the deceased for at least 1 year prior to death, if they had a child together
Dying without a Will has many negative implications. For example, instead of you choosing who will be the executor (trustee) for your estate, a court will decide. The court will also choose a guardian for your minor children without your input about who should take on this important responsibility.
What happens to your stuff if you die without a Will in Manitoba?
If someone who lives in Manitoba dies intestate, their assets are distributed based on their family relationships at the time of death, according to Manitoba law under The Intestate Succession Act.
If the person has:
A spouse (no kids or other descendants), the spouse gets everything
A spouse and kids (or other descendants), and all descendants are from the same spouse, the spouse gets everything
A spouse and kids/descendants, and one or more of the kids/descendants are from a different spouse, then the spouse gets $50,000 or one-half the estate (whichever is greater) plus one-half of everything else. Anything that does not go to a spouse/partner gets divided equally between the deceased’s children
No spouse but there are surviving children (or other descendants), things are split equally between children. If a child is not alive, but they have surviving children of their own, that deceased child’s share gets split between those kids (the grandkids of the person who died intestate)
If no living spouse or kids, everything does to the deceased’s parents (or surviving parent, if there is only one)
If no parents are alive, then everything is split between the deceased’s siblings (or the descendants of a sibling who is not alive)
If no siblings (or their descendants) are alive, then the assets are split equally between grandparents (or aunts/uncles if they are not alive). Any share that would have gone to an aunt/uncle who is not alive would be split between their children who are alive (i.e. cousins of the deceased).
Who can witness my Will in Manitoba?
To validate a Will, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also each add their signature as well. Witnesses should not be beneficiaries (or potential beneficiaries) under the Will, nor spouses or partners of any beneficiaries.
Basically, if anyone could potentially benefit from your Will, it’s not best practice to have them witness your Will.
How is a Power of Attorney different in Manitoba?
A POA allows someone to appoint a person to handle their assets, property, and financial matters. In Manitoba, this document is more specifically referred to as an Enduring Power of Attorney when it survives incapacity, meaning it remains effective even if the grantor subsequently loses the ability to make decisions for themselves.
The biggest difference with a POA in Manitoba as compared to most other provinces is how it’s signed and witnessed. A POA in Manitoba only requires one witness (as opposed to two witnesses, as is the case in many other provinces.) But unlike most other provinces, there are only certain people who are allowed to witness a POA.
Naming your spouse as your attorney
In Manitoba, there are specific restrictions as to what someone can and cannot do when acting under a POA for their spouse. Specifically, they are not allowed to do things like sell, transfer or mortgage the family home.
If someone wants to grant their spouse/partner a POA, they would typically name a “Homestead Attorney” as well. This is someone else (not their spouse/partner) who would deal with any sales, transfers, or mortgages of the family home.
People who may act as a witness for a POA in Manitoba
Justice of the peace
Qualified medical practitioner
Police officer or member of the RCMP
A person registered to solemnize marriages
People who definitely CANNOT be a witness include
The spouse of the person making the POA
Any person named as attorney
The spouse/partner of any person named as an attorney
What is a Health Care Directive?
A Health Care Directive appoints someone referred to as a “proxy” to make health care decisions for someone if they don’t have the mental capacity to make those decisions for themselves.
The person who made the directive must sign it, but it does not need to be witnessed. As is the case in most provinces, when two people are appointed to act jointly, they need to agree on all decisions. However, unlike in most other provinces, if two proxies cannot agree on a decision, Manitoba’s laws state that the person who is named first in the directive gets to make the final decision.