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Looking for a will?

(Last Updated  May 2, 2019)

It is a good idea to plan now for when you die. You may need a "will". 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 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.
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 clear need for the will (such as owning a home or having under-age children).

How does the Project work?

• For information and to apply for service, please call 905-527-4572 and speak with our reception staff. You can also email us at hclc.cjch@gmail.com
• If you qualify for the service, we 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 this service and reminding you about your meeting with the lawyer.
• You will meet with the lawyer. The lawyer will prepare your will.
• 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 six months to get a will. This service is run by volunteers, so it takes time. This service is not able to deal with emergencies or situations where there are concerns about whether the person making the wills understands the consequences of what they are signing.

If you are unable to wait six months to have a will, please contact Justice Net at www.justicenet.ca where you may obtain assistance from an Estate Planning lawyer with fees attached to a sliding scale.

What are my responsibilities?

• Keep in touch.
• Provide HCLC with your most current contact information.
• Be patient! Remember, lawyers helping you are volunteers.

Power of Attorney

The project DOES NOT prepare power of attorney (see definition below) documents however you may contact our clinic at 905-527-4572 for information about how to obtain a power of attorney kit OR access it online at:
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/poakit.php

Helpful Definitions

It is helpful to understand what the documents are that can be prepared. 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. There are two kinds of power of attorney – Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Power of Attorney for Property.

• 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.