General Estate Planning Information
We believe everyone should think about estate planning and have an estate plan in place now – not wait until you are old. An estate plan helps to ensure that your wishes are respected if the unexpected happens. It is the best way to make sure that you decide who manages your affairs, who becomes the guardian of your children, what happens to your assets and who is to receive the benefit of your estate.
Wills, Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements
A will is one of the estate planning documents we recommend having in place, but we also recommend having:
You might also consider having an advance care plan, which is a written plan with your wishes and instructions to someone you trust for your future health care.
An advance care plan may include:
A will, power of attorney, representation agreement and an advance care plan, allows you to decide who manages your affairs, who becomes the guardian of your children, what happens to your assets, as well as, having control over your health care and finances in the event that you become mentally or physically incapable.
However, even with a will, when one passes away a Grant of Probate generally must be obtained before one’s Executor can act, and the estate can be distributed. There are a few options available to avoid the probate process, for example, holding assets in joint tenancy. For further information on holding assets in joint tenancy and more advanced options please see The Estate Planning and Wealth Preservation section.
You have worked hard to secure your financial position. Let us help you protect it and ensure your wishes are respected if the unexpected should happen.
An estate plan is about ensuring that your family is protected in the event of your death or incapacity. We believe that for most people an effective estate plan includes a will, power of attorney and representation agreement.
A will sets out who you want to handle your estate, who is to be the guardian of your young children and who is to receive your assets upon your death. It is the best way to ensure that your estate is distributed to your loved ones according to your wishes.
We believe having a will is extremely important for without a will your assets may not go to those you want to benefit, and if you have young children, the guardian may not be the person you would have chosen.
An executor is someone you appoint in your will to be responsible for carrying out your wishes and instructions in your will. The executor can be one person or several people.
A codicil is a legal document that allows you to make a minor change to your Will and should be kept with your original will.
A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your financial and legal matters on your behalf. Without a power of attorney your financial and legal matters may be difficult to manage if you are unable to do so, whether that be due to physical or mental incapacity or you simply being out of town.
A representation agreement is a document that allows you to give another person the power to make health care and personal care decisions for you. Without a representation agreement health care and personal care decisions may be difficult to decide if you are unable to do so on your own behalf.
An advance directive allows you to provide written instructions to give or refuse consent to certain health care matters if you have become physically or mentally incapable and such decisions need to be made; this includes life support and life prolonging medical interventions. While it does not cover personal care matters, it ensures that your wishes and instructions with respect to health care matters are followed.
A living will is not a legal document in B.C. The term “living will” has been used to describe a person’s written wishes for their health care treatments, particularly treatments they do not want in an end-of-life situation.
If you die without a will, then the distribution of your estate will, in most cases, be determined by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. In such a situation, your estate may not be distributed in the way you would have wished and the costs of administering your estate may also be higher. If you have young children, you will also be giving up the right to appoint their guardian.