Wills and Estate Planning
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What is “estate planning”? Do I really need a Will? What happens if I die without one?
The term “estate” refers to everything that a person possesses, solely, at the time of death; it does not include “joint” assets, but can include real property (real estate), personal property (jewellery, furniture, artwork, furniture, vehicles), bank accounts, stocks, etc. “Estate planning” means giving thought and consideration to what would comprise your estate and putting measures in place to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
In B.C., if a person dies without a Will, his estate is distributed in accordance with Provincial Legislation: the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA). There are no special provisions to alter the WESA distribution, meaning that those people who do not fall within the legislation are left with nothing. There is no subjective consideration given based on personal or meaningful relationships between an individual and the deceased.
I don’t own much. Do I still need a Will?
Yes! Making a Will is about having and giving control. One of the most crucial decisions to make is to appoint an executor. This is someone who will act to wrap up your life: pay your final bills, liquidate assets, organize and be accountable to beneficiaries, file paperwork and distribute items according to your final wishes.
For parents, an equally important appointment is a guardian: someone who will be legally designated to stand in your place as primary caretaker for your minor children when you are gone.
If a person dies without a Will and, therefore, without appointing an Executor or a Guardian, the B.C. court makes these important decisions for you. Why let the government make your last wish decisions? Call us- we’ll make sure your wishes are honoured.
I already have a Will. How often should I update it?
There is no definitive timeframe for changing or updating your will. The most common reason(s) to change your Will result from major life changes or events like the birth of a child, death of a family member, potential beneficiary, guardian or executor, marriage or divorce. In addition, and even without any of these happenings, consideration should be given to your Will every 3-5 years; do a quick reassessment and make sure that you still have the same wishes.
Can I make my own Will?
Do you perform your own surgeries? Do you conduct your own vehicle repairs? Do you design your own renovation plans? Unless you are professionally trained for these specific tasks, your answer will be a resounding “no”! Doing so would be dangerous because of the lack of proper training and knowledge. The same is true for making your own Will. Without an intricate knowledge of the law, you are certain to make mistakes and overlook important considerations… and you might never know it until it is too late! Why risk it?
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney? What is a Representation Agreement?
Power of Attorney is a legal document that is used to appoint a person (or people) to act on your behalf with respect to legal and financial matters. “Enduring” means that the authority lasts your lifetime (until revocation or death), so it can be used out of convenience and/or because of lost mental capacity. It is the highest form of authority that you can give and should not be done so without significant contemplation and a strong level of trust for the appointed person(s).
Conversely, a Representation Agreement grants authority for medical and health-related decisions. It is a means for you to clarify what types of treatments you would be open to receiving and what procedures you would not want; and, most significantly, it allows you to appoint a representative, who will follow your wishes and be your advocate in the medical system when you cannot – at that point in time – make important healthcare decisions for yourself.
Quality, Personal Service.
Your first impression as a new client is one of casual friendliness, second is efficient service and third is loyalty. Donna has built a client base that keeps coming back. Donna's team follows her lead: caring, compassionate and very effective in their chosen profession. Give us a call, let us make an impression.