Where There is a Will – There is a Way.
Vancouver Family Lawyer and Estate Planning Lawyer Jenna Lalani
Why is it important to have a Will in place?
“It is on my TO-DO list!”. We have all made this excuse. However, putting together an estate plan including a Last Will and Testament should be at the top of that list.
A Last Will and Testament is a thorough legal document which reflects your intentions in the event of your death. A Will covers every decision with respect to your funeral wishes, guardianship of your children and allocation of your assets and debts. A Will is a plan to ensure your loved ones are taken care of. Having a Will means your loved ones will receive the benefit of your estate and become the beneficiaries of your estate.
You should have a will in place if you:
HAVE A SPOUSE
HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN
ARE A BUSINESS OWNER
If you don’t express your wishes and intentions, then who will?
What happens if I don’t have a Will in place?
If you die without a Will, your property will be divided according to the laws in British Columbia. In addition, the costs to administer your estate would inevitably increase, meaning the extra funds needed would derive from your estate. The government not only gets to enjoy a percentage of your estate, likely a large amount due to poor estate planning (or none at all), but they also get to decide where your property goes. Having a Will in place prevents an unfair distribution of your assets.
I have a Will – do I need to change it?
Any change in one’s circumstances could give rise to the need for an updated Last Will and Testament. A change in one’s family structure is often the most common need for an updated Will, whether that be a new spouse (marriage or common law), separation or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child or even a death amongst your named beneficiaries or representatives. Even becoming a grandparent could give rise to a change in beneficiaries in your Will. Any change in family structure could affect your designated beneficiaries, but also your preferred executor and guardian. Appointing the right executor of your Will and guardian of your children is an important decision – who will carry out your wishes and who will look after your children when you are gone? These are important aspects that could make your Will outdated. An outdated Will is not sufficient and is almost like having no Will at all. It reflects a different time in your life with a plan that would likely differ today.
What happens if I can no longer make decisions?
An important aspect of creating a valid Will is your capacity. If your mental functioning is in question due to illness or disability, you may not have the required mental capacity to create a Will. This can cause big problems as any Will you draft when you lose mental capacity may be unenforceable. The best way to ensure this does not happen is to have a comprehensive estate plan and Will drafted while you are healthy. You can also create a personal directive and power of attorney to ensure that someone can make decisions for you if you are ill or disabled.
You plan for your retirement. You plan with life insurance. You even plan a date/friends night out. Why procrastinate your estate planning?
Why seek a lawyer’s help?
Many people opt for the “Do It Yourself” Will or kits that are all over the Internet. We do not recommend these kits for planning how to pass on your hard-earned assets or determining how your children will be cared for as they are often deficient. There are several legal requirements for a valid Will and many things to consider when preparing a Will. Getting professional assistance from a lawyer allows for a detailed and strategic plan for your estate. Some assets and accounts do not need to be included in your Will and seeking the right advice can put the best plan in place and even save your estate money.
The Wills and Estates lawyers at Crossroads Law are experienced in the estate planning process and can ensure your last wishes are expressed in the most efficient and appropriate manner. We will work with you to protect your assets and ensure your wishes result in less taxes and expenses to your estate. We offer Wills, personal directives, and powers of attorney for flat rates so you know how much it will cost up front. Contact us now for your free consultation today.