Looking for a will?
(Last Updated January 22, 2016)
It is a good idea to plan now for when you die or if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. You need a "will" and a "power of attorney". Lawyers charge to prepare these documents, so people with low incomes often cannot afford them.
The Hamilton Pro Bono Project may be able to help you. Lawyers volunteer their time to make wills and powers of attorney for people who cannot afford to pay for the service. The Project started in 2004 and the volunteer lawyers have assisted people with disabilities, those with terminal illnesses, single parents and other low income adults.
The Hamilton Pro Bono Project operates out of the offices of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. It is run by volunteers who work only part time.
Who can use the Hamilton Pro Bono Project?
You must qualify to receive free services from the Project. You must be low income and there must be a need for the will and power of attorney.
How does the Project work?
- For information and to apply for service, please call 905-545-0442, extension 32. Leave a message with your name and phone number. It may take up to two to four weeks for someone to call you back. Please be patient. You can also email the Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A Project volunteer will call to ask you questions.
- If you qualify for the service, the volunteer will find a volunteer lawyer to help you.
- An appointment will be made for you to meet with the lawyer.
- You will get a letter saying you have been accepted for the Project and reminding you about your meeting with the lawyer.
- You will meet with the lawyer. The lawyer will prepare your will and power of attorney.
- After you meet with the lawyer you will get a letter asking you if the service was helpful.
How long will it take?
It takes about two months to get a will and power of attorney. The Project is run by volunteers, so it takes time. The Project is not able to deal with emergencies.
What are my responsibilities?
- Keep in touch.
- Provide the Project volunteer with your most current contact information.
- Be patient! Remember, everyone helping you is a volunteer.
It is helpful to understand what the documents are that can be prepared by the Project. The following is information only. It is not legal advice or legal authority. You should contact a lawyer if you have specific questions or need more information or advice.
- What is a will?
A will is a legal document that says what you want to do with your property and belongings (called your "estate") after you die. It names the person you want to carry out the terms of your will (the "executor"). A will is important because it makes it easier for those left behind to look after your estate and you decide who is to get your property. A will also names who you would like to be responsible for your children if they are under 18 when you die (called "guardianship").
- What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf and make decisions for you.
The term "attorney" means the person or persons you have chosen to act on your behalf. Your chosen attorney does not need to be a lawyer. Usually you chose a friend or family member that you trust and who has agreed to do this for you. The Project can help with two kinds of powers of attorney, explained below.
- What is power of attorney for personal care?
This is a legal document in which you name a person to make decisions about your medical care and other care when you become unable to make those decisions yourself. You may give a power of attorney if you are at least 16 years old and are capable to do so. You are capable of giving a power of attorney if you are able to understand whether your named attorney has a genuine concern for you and that they may make personal care decisions for you, if necessary.
- What is a power of attorney for property?
This is a legal document in which you name a person to make decisions about your money and other assets on your behalf. You can decide if the power of attorney starts immediately or when you become incapable of making decisions about your finances. You may give a power of attorney if you are at least 18 years of age and are capable to do so. You are capable of giving a power of attorney if you understand the kind of property you have, the value of that property and the role of the person named as your attorney.