Westcoast Wills and Probate LawyerVancouver | North Vancouver | Burnaby | Squamish
Westcoast WillsVancouver | North Vancouver | Burnaby | Squamish
Creating wills is an essential part of the estate planning process, but all too many people mistake it for being the only step. At Westcoast Wills, our wills lawyers conduct an in-depth estate planning interview lasting about an hour and a half for every will and trust client as a matter of course. As a part of this meeting, we discuss your family, companies, ownership of real estate and bank accounts, beneficiary designations, insurance coverage, trusts, Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements. We give advice where needed on these points, and often times, this estate planning advice saves clients thousands of dollars in the long run. Only part of the meeting is devoted to talking about your Will and trusts.
Purpose of Wills
A Will helps reduce or even eliminate disputes that can arise among members of your family relating to the distribution of your assets in the unfortunate event of your death. If you do not document your wishes in a valid Will, the assets in your estate will be distributed in accordance with the arbitrary, predetermined rules of intestate succession, as set out in Part 3 of BC’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act. Under these rules, only your closest living relatives will inherit your property.
Wills provide for minor children
If you have minor children, you need a will. In a will, you can appoint guardians to take care of your children. Without a will, it’s up to a judge to decide what happens with your children. Also in a will, you can provide trust funds so that your children will inherit from you at a responsible age. Without a will, all of your your assets would be held by the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, held in trust by them until your minor children reach 19, then paid out to them. Not only is this process very expensive (with the fees the Public Guardian and Trustees charge), but it could also harm your children as most 19 year olds are not mature enough to handle substantial amounts of money.
Wills provide for disabled beneficiaries
If you plan on providing someone who is receiving disability assistance from the government, it’s a really good idea to provide for them in trust (called a “Hensen Trust“). This is because in BC, people receiving disability assistance payments can have a maximum of $100,000 worth of assets in their own name (with exceptions such as a car or home). If the inheritance you give them puts them over the limit, they get disqualified from receiving disability assistance. This is much more than a loss of a monthly cheque: often the assistance is in the form of subsidized housing, tuition, prescriptions, transit passes and the list goes on. Uprooting the life of somebody with a disability is a horrible prospect, so contact our wills lawyers to help you set up a QDT (qualified disability trust) in your will.
Dual Wills for Business Owners
Business owners may wish to consider having two wills: one for their company and one for their other assets that need to go through probate. With this structure in place, the probate fee will not likely be levied against the value of the company, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars. We often call these dual wills for company owners.
Multiple Wills for Owners of assets outside of BC
Real estate transfers occur according to the laws of the jurisdiction where that real estate is located. This means if you are resident in BC and have a piece of real estate outside of BC, you should ideally have two wills: one dealing with that real estate, and the other dealing with the rest of your assets in BC. We often call these multiple wills for foreign assets. These wills often deal with non-real estate assets in the foreign jurisdiction as well. If you only have a BC will, that will has to be probated in both jurisdictions after you die, causing undue delay and cost. The worst case scenario is that your BC will isn’t even valid in that other jurisdiction, as every province, state and country has it’s own differing laws of succession.
When working with Westcoast Wills & Estates, you can rest assured that your property will be distributed as you intended. A Wills and trusts lawyer will take your instructions, provide professional advice and draft a comprehensive Will that incorporates all of your wishes and includes appropriate trusts, while minimizing taxes payable by your estate. Not all wills need a testamentary trust, but our estate planning lawyers will point you in the right direction. If you simply want to change a will, our wills lawyers can help you with that as well.
If you are over 65 and have substantial assets, we may recommend an alter ego trust or joint partner trust to compliment your will.
If you’re still not convinced that you need a will, see why you need a will by clicking here.
Along with a Will, you should consider having in place a Representation Agreement (for personal and health care decisions) and a Power of Attorney (for financial decisions) in the event that you become incapable of managing your affairs in the future.