Planning Your Legacy
Why is it important to have an estate plan?
Everyone approaches estate planning differently as we all have our own ideas or expectations. Your estate plan should be a reflection of your personal interests and choices. An estate plan allows you to plan your life in the present and for your future. It allows you to address your goals and objectives in an effective manner. Estate planning can help ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish, appoint guardians of your minor children, prepare for an unexpected illness or death, or appoint an attorney to manage your legal and financial matters.
We will work through the process with you to ensure that your interests and other matters are documented. An effective way of developing your estate plan may include advance care planning documents such as a Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement and/or an Advance Directive.
Do I need a Will?
A Will is a critical tool that outlines your wishes for the distribution of assets, appointing a guardian of your choice for your minor children, your choice of an Executor and any funeral arrangements. A Will protects your most important assets, which is your family. Making a Will has many advantages including the aforementioned and tax liability reduction (i.e. leaving gifts to your favorite charity). The idea of making a will seems uncomfortable or daunting but it doesn't have to be. If you are unsure where to start, contact our office and we will be more than happy to assist you.
What happens if I don't have a Will?
If you do not have a Will, you can't control what happens to your assets. The distribution of your Estate is determined by law (Wills, Estates and Succession Act of B.C.) and the court appoints an Administrator of your Estate. This may cause disputes among your family and friends as to who should be appointed, prolong the process of Administration of your Estate or increase your Estate's legal expenses as opposed to Probate of a Will. Further, the court can also decide what happens with your minor children.
Can I make a Will myself?
Anyone can make a Will as long as they are 16. Further, a Will must meet the requirements set out by the legislation in order to be valid. If any of the requirements are not met, the Will is considered to be invalid. A Will is a legal document that should be prepared properly. Our office ensures that your Will is properly drafted and executed to meet the requirements set out by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act of B.C.
Does my Will get registered once it's made?
Your Will does not get registered; however, a notice is filed that you have made a Will. A Wills Notice is a form filed with the Vital Statistics Agency of B.C. This Wills Notice is registered in the wills registry that you've made a Will and where your original Will is located. Vital Statistics of B.C. does not keep a copy of your Will nor record any information included in your Will. You can store your original Will in a safety deposit box or in your own home; however, we recommend that you advise your executor and/ or your alternate executor of its location or provide them with a copy.
When should I update my Will?
Some circumstances should prompt you to change your Will, consider the following when you are determining whether you need to update your Will:
If you decide changes are required, please do not write on your original Will. This includes writing further instructions to your executor, crossing out lines you want to change or print in a new married name of a beneficiary or yourself. This could result in voiding your Will altogether before the creation and execution of a new Will. Contact our office and we can assist you.
- Have your family circumstances changed? (i.e. you have more children or adopt a child)
- Has there been a death in your family?
- Are you satisfied with your choice of Executor/Trustee and is your named Executor/Trustee still able to administer your estate?
- Has there been any change in the value of your assets? (i.e. sell property that is specifically mentioned in your Will)
- Have there been any recent changes to legislation that may provide you with tax and probate relief?