Vancouver Wills and Estate Planning
Creating a will clearly laying out your wishes for the distribution of your assets is important to ensure the fulfilment of your wishes after your death. It is also important in order to simplify things for your family and loved ones after you pass. Contact a qualified estate lawyer at Munro & Crawford today, for comprehensive wills and estate planning in Vancouver.
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Comprehensive Wills and estate planning includes leaving a proper legal will shows clearly how you would like your assets distributed. Your loved ones are not left wondering and guessing what you would have wanted in terms of the distribution of your possessions and how you would’ve liked your memorial or funeral to be structured. Your loved ones will be going through a difficult time and will feel overwhelmed. Leaving a sound, comprehensive will helps to make things much easier on them during an inevitably hard time.
If you do not have a will, your assets will be divided in accordance with BC law and you will not have a say in appointing a guardian for any children in your care that are left behind. We highly recommend that everyone prepares a will in order to ensure the best possible outcome for their family and beneficiaries. Contact Munro & Crawford today to learn more about our comprehensive Vancouver wills and estate planning services.
Representation Agreements and Advance Directives
Representation agreements and advance directives allow appointed loved ones to make decisions regarding healthcare for you if you are not able to make these decisions yourself, such as if you are in a coma.
Choosing an Executor
When naming an executor, make sure that you understand fully what your executor will be responsible for. This includes tasks such as dealing with the distribution of your assets, paying off any outstanding debts left behind, and wrapping up administrative matters such as canceling subscriptions and redirecting mail. Speak to the person you are considering appointing executor and make sure that they are willing and able to carry out these responsibilities.
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What documents form most estate plans, and what do they do?
A good estate plan prepares for two matters: planning for death, and incapacity planning
. A Will is essentially a set of instructions for what to do when you pass away, and who is responsible for doing them. Accordingly, most estate plans will start with creating a Will.
Your Will doesn’t do anything until you actually pass away. So, in the event that you become mentally incompetent, what then? In order to plan for incapacity
, you typically want two documents: An Enduring Power of Attorney that covers legal and financial affairs, and a Representation Agreement that covers healthcare, personal care and living arrangements.
Does everyone need a will?
Most people should have Wills, but there are exceptions. If you pass away without a Will, your assets will be transferred according to fixed rules. It might not make sense for you to make a Will if you aren’t going to change what would happen to your assets under the fixed rules.
For example: you are married but have no children. You want to make sure that everything you own will go to your spouse if you die. This is what would happen under the fixed rules. Therefore, making a Will confirming this isn’t going to change anything, and may not be a good use of your money.
The full answer to this question can be quite complicated. If you are uncertain whether you should have a Will, please call and book an appointment with one of our lawyers. We will listen to your circumstances and advise if making a Will is right for you.
Can my executor and the guardian for my minor children be the same person?
Yes, they can be the same person. However, many people are concerned that their children’s guardian will be reckless with the inheritance that is supposed to be for your children’s benefit. This is particularly so in high-value estates. In these circumstances, it usually makes sense for your guardian and your executor to be different people. The guardian will be responsible for raising your children, and the executor will be responsible for managing their inheritance until they’re old enough to receive it. Your executor can always transfer money to the children’s guardian if they are satisfied that it’s in the child’s best interests. For example, if the money is to be used for the child’s education or healthcare.
My child has always had a difficulty in managing their money. I’m afraid they’ll mismanage their inheritance, or be taken advantage of when I’m no longer here. Can I do something to prevent this?
Yes, we can create a trust in your Will where the inheritance will be professionally managed for the benefit of your child. The terms of the trust are flexible, and you can decide what the money can be used for (eg. education, housing, healthcare, transport, spending money, etc.).
How often should I redo my will?
It’s a good idea to review your Will with your lawyer at least every five years to make sure its provisions are appropriate for your current life circumstances. Also, any time there is a major change in your life circumstances it’s important to have your Will reviewed (eg. a change in marital status). Sometimes, if changes are minor, your Will can be properly updated by making a modification to it using a ‘Codicil’. Often times a Codicil can be created during the course of a one-hour meeting with one of our lawyers to review your Will.
I’ve heard I can save my estate money if I add my child as a joint owner of my home and bank accounts. Is this true?
Assets that are jointly-owned do not pass according to what you say in your Will. Instead, they pass by the right of survivorship to the surviving joint owners. In practice, this means that jointly-owned assets do not need to go through the probate process, and your estate does not need to pay probate fees on the value of jointly owned assets.
It isn’t all positives, however. Adding joint owners to assets can be very risky. It will often trigger capital gains taxes, and the assets will be available to the creditors of the new joint owners. Would you really want to risk losing your home if your child doesn’t pay their taxes or gets divorced?
Is making a will enough?
Making a Will is a good first-step, but it is only part of a proper estate plan. Your Will won’t work to transfer any assets that are owned jointly, or have a named designated beneficiary. Common examples are RRSP/RRIF, life insurance policies and pensions. When you are making your Will, you should review your financial assets and confirm whether any of your beneficiary designations require updating, or if ownership of accounts and land should be altered to match your intended distribution of your assets when you pass away.