Estate Law

Estate Law

Wills

A Will is generally thought of as a statement of how you wish your property to be distributed after your death. This is true. But a Will is also peace of mind for you and your family. EVERYONE needs a will and yet an alarmingly high number of British Columbians donʼt have one.

You need a Will, even if:

  • you donʼt think you have any assets – many family disputes have nothing to do with cash and everything to do with family heirlooms with sentimental value
  • you just want everything to go to your spouse – if you have children, even adult self-sufficient children, it is incorrect to assume that everything will automatically go to your spouse
  • you are not sure how you want to dispose of your assets and you might change your mind – a Will is a living document that can and should be amended as your circumstances change. Donʼt let what might happen tomorrow prevent you from taking care of your family today.
Incapacity Planning

While Wills are the crux of an estate plan, your planning is not complete until you have prepared for the possibility of your disability or incompetence. We work with client to prepare representation agreements (which allow you to appoint a trusted individual to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so) and powers of attorney (which allow you to appoint a trusted individual to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so).

Trusts and Tax Planning

In addition, there are estate planning tools which can be used to:

  • reduce, defer, or eliminate probate fees and taxes that would otherwise be payable on death;
  • prevent the possibility of someone challenging your wishes as stated in your Will;
  • assist disabled beneficiaries while ensuring they can continue to qualify for government benefits;
  • prevent disputes between family members, particularly in the case of blended families; and
  • protect family members and beneficiaries from creditor claims.

Talk to use about your concerns! We work with clients to ensure their wishes are carried out.

Estate Administration

Most people believe that being appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate is an honour. That is, until they undertake the role for the first time and discover that it is an arduous, burdensome, and, sometimes, overwhelming task. Executors are responsible for making funeral arrangements, notifying all parties, locating, inventorying, and safeguarding assets, identifying liabilities, reviewing insurance policies, applying for death benefits, financial record-keeping (sometimes over long periods of time), filing court applications, consolidating assets (including obtaining appraisals and selling property), preparing tax returns, handling communications with beneficiaries and attending to payments of creditors and distribution to heirs in a timely fashion. All of this will be done under the scrutiny of beneficiaries and other governmental bodies, such as the Canada Revenue Agency or the Public Guardian and Trustee.

The executor is usually attending to all these matter while grieving. An experienced and competent estate lawyer can ease this burden quite considerably, and their fees can usually be paid from the estate.